Skip to main content


The Fascination by Essie Fox #Review #Giveaway

   Today be prepared for a dark, Victorian gothic novel! The Fascination by Essie Fox is published on June 22nd by Orenda . For the chance to win a print copy of The Fascination see the foot of this post for details. 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

Moonstone: the boy who never was by Sjón

Winner of the Icelandic Literary Prize and the Icelandic Bookseller's Prize for Novel of the Year 2013. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.

Moonstone is a short novella of 142 pages, mainly set in the Iceland of 1918. Catastrophic events are happening inside and outside the country. The Great War is nearing its end and inside the country, the volcano Katla, is erupting ominously. Life in Reyjavik is torn apart by an outbreak of Spanish Flu, brought in on a foreign ship, which is decimating the population. Iceland is undergoing transformation and becoming a sovereign independent country.

     Máni, the central figure, is a young, gay teenager, detached from mainstream life. Orphaned as a child, he has been taken in by an old woman, said to be his great grandmother's sister. He earns money by working as a male prostitute. He is obsessed with the imported films he sees in the new, local cinema and visualises life as if it exists on the screen. Everyone seems to be objectified. Some sections of the story are in the form of dream sequences and it feels as if there is a blurring of fact and fiction which unsettles the reader. 

    Written as a series of short fragments, over the course of a few  months, Moonstone has a poetic feel. You feel that each word has been carefully chosen. There is nothing superfluous in any of the sentences. It is hard when reading a book in translation to know if the rhythms and cadences in the text reflect the feel of the original. I found some of the scenes brutal and difficult to read and so estranged from life was Máni that I found it difficult to empathise with him. I couldn't help but remember Camus' La Peste as the Spanish Flu took hold. 

In short:  a life splintered, a country under change.  

Thanks to the publishers, Sceptre Books, who gave me a copy of the book via Bookbridgr.    


Popular Posts