by Katie Antoniou
The Somnambulist is the debut novel from author Essie Fox. The Gothic tale is set in London 1881, Phoebe Turner lives in the shadow of her widowed mother, Maud, who marches with the Hallelujah Army and campaigns for all theatres and bars to be closed. They share a home with Cissy, Phoebe's beautiful unmarried aunt who sings on the stage at Wilton's Music Hall. Historic locations like this feature prominently in Essie's novel, which looks at the many aspects of Victorian culture which we are still fascinated by.
The main character Phoebe then goes to work for a laudanum addict, Lydia in a Herefordshire mansion where she finds herself haunted by the reclusive lady and her strange sleepwalking. She is troubled by dreams of fresh blood in the snow and soon even darker secrets emerge...
Here, Essie Fox shares with us some of the inspirations behind the book, its setting and the lure of the past, as well as her thoughts on modern literary media like blogging and the future of books, both the paper and virtual variety.