Publisher Karen Sullivan acquired world English rights from David Headley at D H H Literary Agency for hardback publication in June 2023.
"Well-known to the publishing industry, Orenda Books is an absolute powerhouse, so when Karen said she wanted to work with Essie on her new book, it just made perfect sense," said Headley. "It is a privilege to represent Essie and her writing, which only goes from strength to strength. I know that The Fascination has found its perfect home."
The Fascination is set in Victorian London and follows twins Keziah and Tilly Lovell and Theo, an orphan raised by a wealthy family. The publisher wrote: "Coerced into promoting their father’s quack elixir, the girls are eventually sold to a mysterious Italian, known only as ‘Captain’. In a second strand we meet Theo, an orphan raised by his wealthy—and resentful—grandfather in an opulent country home. When his grandfather remarries, Theo is forced to leave his home without a penny to his name and takes on work as an assistant in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy. And it is here that the lives of the two sisters and Theo collide, with devastating effect."
Of the acquisition Sullivan said: "The Fascination is a glorious, glittering evocation of Victorian London and its obsession with ‘deformo-mania’; it’s sumptuous, visceral and exquisitely written, populated by superbly drawn, often unscrupulous characters, and powered by an unexpected, brooding tension and multiple layers of intrigue and deception. At its heart are universal themes of love and loss and, perhaps most powerfully, an examination of what it means to be unique, to fall outside the physical norm, to be excluded and exploited,and yet retain a fierce and independent spirit. Essie Fox is renowned for her atmospheric, bewitching explorations of Victoriana and this extraordinary, evocative novel showcases a writer at the height of her powers."
Fox added: "The Fascination has been my passion for the last few years. It’s a story that was forming even while I was writing other novels, something bursting to get out. It was an absolute delight for me when Karen at Orenda shared my enthusiasm and had such vision for the project. I hope that readers will now take as much pleasure from the story as I felt when writing it."