A romantic, mystical tale of adventure set in Victorian Britain that seamlessly blends elements of history, fantasy and horror.
Geoffrey Thraxton is a disreputable, death-obsessed British lord who frequently visits Highgate Cemetery in search of contact with the spirit world. Entwistle’s style harkens back to the Victorian era Geoffrey inhabits, blending components of horror, whimsy and romance against a backdrop of social history. Readers travel alongside the protagonist through foggy and desolate regions of the cemetery as he faces the spirits who taunt him. Internally, meanwhile, he’s waging battle with various aspects of his identity. Well-known among the elite class for his position as a whoremonger, pugilist, and rebel, Geoffrey has long sought his “inamorata”; he’s certain that only one angelic woman will be able to put his restless heart at ease. When he meets Aurelia, the ethereal woman of his dreams, she helps him reevaluate his outlook on life (and death). Their love becomes the novel’s chillingly romantic centerpiece. Entwistle depicts their budding affair as a wholly credible fairy tale: Aurelia’s story comes complete with an overprotective father and confinement in a dark attic. While putting a creative spin on a Gothic love story, the author successfully incites fear with the introduction of Silas Garrette, an unhinged con artist, psychopath and chloroform addict. Other vile and menacing characters include the mobsmen of the Seven Dials, such as shady pickpocket Mordecai Fowler, who exhibits a penchant for long, painful torture. Entwistle’s prose is eloquent, and evocative without sacrificing concision. His staging of Victorian London—its memorial parks, stately homes, fog-shrouded streets—is cloaked in suspense, shown through an extensive use of detail and sensory imagery.
A magnificently written, provocative novel that blends genres to help readers answer profound questions about mortality.