The Somnambulist – Essie Fox

The Somnambulist - Essie FoxThe Somnambulist
Essie Fox

Every heart holds a secret. But some secrets are best left buried…

When she spots an enigmatic stranger in the audience one night at Wilton’s Music Hall, seventeen-year-old Phoebe Turner doesn’t realise her lie is about to change. Mr Samuels offers her the job of companion to his reclusive wife at Dinwood Court – a grand country house that may well be haunted and which holds the darkest of secrets.

Leaving the hustle of London’s East End, Phoebe finds herself disturbed by her new surroundings. She awakes to hear sobbing in the night and it soon becomes clear that she has not been chosen to work there by chance…

A spellbinding tale of lost love, grief, murder and madness in Victorian England.

Essie Fox’s debut novel is nothing short of fantastic; it’s a real page turner from beginning to end. I found this book hard to put down as it’s so captivating.

Told from the young and naive Phoebe Turner’s point of view, the reader quickly sees things before Phoebe does, and the inclusion of Nathaniel Samuels’ monologues provides a further insight into the secrets of Phoebe’s life. However, being one step infront of the protagonist doesn’t ruin the dark and brooding sense of the novel, as Fox’s descriptive narrative provides a Gothic element that means the book wouldn’t seem out of place amongst the Gothic classics of the Victorian era.

When Phoebe’s beloved Aunt Cissy dies her world crumbles apart. Her mother, Maud, is struggling to keep a roof over their heads and Phoebe is consumed with grief – as well as a desire to know who the man her Aunt was last seen with is, and why he has just offered Phoebe the job of companion to his wife. When Maud seems quite eager to send Phoebe off to Dinwood Court to live with Mrs Samuels, Phoebe doesn’t resist, seeing it as a solution to her mother’s financial problems. But soon Phoebe’s life is turned upside down in more ways then she could ever imagine, as the secrets and lies that her whole life has been built on are slowly revealed.

It’s clear to see how much passion Fox has for the Victorian Era and every little detail is included to ensure that the book appears to have been written in the same era as it’s set in. The Somnambulist is one of the most gripping novels I have read in a long time – it caused me many late nights due to my inability to put it down, but it was completely worth it and I cannot wait for the imminent release of Fox’s second novel.


Lauren is a Journalism and English graduate, who is currently building up experience in journalism and writing. She enjoys writing about lots of things, and as a result of this she has set up two blogs: one professional, one personal. She has a passion for reading, shopping, blogging and all things 60s. In an ideal world she’d live in a house surrounded by books, Beatles memorabilia and pets.

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