Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an extract from The Fascination! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that it’s a glorious piece of slow-burning Gothic fiction, addressing themes, issues and prejudices from the Victorian era through characters you come to care about as you read. If you enjoy gothic literature and historical fiction set in the Victorian era, this is one you should definitely check out.
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions…
Twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn’t grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father’s quack elixir as they tour the country fairgrounds, at the age of fifteen the girls are sold to a mysterious Italian known as ‘Captain’.
Theo is an orphan, raised by his grandfather, Lord Seabrook, a man who has a dark interest in anatomical freaks and other curiosities … particularly the human kind. Resenting his grandson for his mother’s death in childbirth, when Seabrook remarries and a new heir is produced, Theo is forced to leave home without a penny to his name.
Unable to train to be a doctor as he’d hoped, Theo finds employment in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy in London, and here he meets Captain and his theatrical ‘family’ of performers, freaks and outcasts.
But it is Theo’s fascination with Tilly and Keziah that will lead all of them into a web of dark deceits, exposing the darkest secrets and threatening everything they know…
Exploring universal themes of love and loss, the power of redemption and what it means to be unique, The Fascination is an evocative, glittering and bewitching gothic novel that brings alive Victorian London and darkness and deception that lies beneath…
Ready? Here we go!
Some freaks are born, and some are made. But when it came to Tilly Lovell, it was no natural quirk of fate the way that I kept sprouting up to reach a normal adult height, whereas she stopped at three foot six. Who would believe that we were twins, and identical at that? As like as peas in the one pod on the day that we were born, when – according to our pa, Alfred Nehemiah Lovell – he could cup his mewling daughters in the palms of both his hands? One on the left. One on the right. Like a pair of kitchen scales.
A miracle that we survived. The child that followed us did not. We should have had a baby brother, but Pa said he wasn’t right. Unlike ourselves, he’d been too big. Ma wasn’t strong, and as she’d lain there on the bed and breathed her last, our ill-fated little sibling also gave a feeble gasp. He left this world held in her arms. They lie together in one coffin.
Such a tragedy it was, and what a thorn of bitter gall it left in Alfred Lovell’s heart. Not that his heart was ever sweet. To tell the truth he wasn’t fit to play the part of any father – which is exactly what I’d say if the man should have the cheek to show his face to us again. Though I occasionally wonder, would I know him if he did after so many years of absence? Would his hair have turned to grey or still be gleaming, black as coal? Would his whiskers still be tweezed to two waxed tips below a nose swollen and grogged with boozy veins? I have no doubt I’d recognise him by his one remaining eye, always the mirror of our own. Very dark and slightly slanting, loaning a hint of the exotic – which is because we have the blood of the Gyptians in our veins. And that’s a heritage I’m proud of, although I’m somewhat less inclined to boast of an affiliation with the mercenary man who thought so little of his daughters that he gambled them away one summer dawn on Windsor Brocas. For all he knew he could have flung us both into the fires of Hell. Instead of which, my sister Tilly, she went soaring like the brightest of the stars in London’s skies … in which the Fairy Queen Matilda bedazzled all who came to see her.
Eager to find out what happens to Tilly? Not a problem: The Fascination is out now in hardcover and digital formats. Get it directly from Orenda Books here.