I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I was totally blown away by how intricate and beautifully written it was. The story starts in Newgate Prison during the eighteenth century where we first meet the mysterious Miss Tully Truegood. We learn immediately that Tully is awaiting trial for Murder, and as we get a glimpse into her thoughts, we are transported into her world, as the author takes us on the ethereal journey that is Tully’s life.
Born to a father who cares little for her, as a young girl Tully takes solace in the care of their cook. Forbidden to leave the house, the curious Miss Tully only manages tiny glimpses of the outside world through windows or colourful character’s that Cook and her father entertain. When she begins to experience not-of-this-world sights and feelings, Tully is soon taught to hide her ‘sinful’ abilities.
When her father marries his daughter off to cover a gambling debt whilst she is still but a child, Tully is relieved that she has no need to live or even know her husband, and instead returns to the embrace of Cook. However when she is also introduced to her new stepmother and step-sisters she fears the worst. It’s from here that Tully steps into an unknown world of affection and sparkle. Standing up to her father, she is flung into the open world and the arms of The Fairy House.
The Fairy House is a whore house with a difference. Told from Tully’s memories, it forms a beautiful part of the book, as she learns to embrace her magical abilities and use them to her advantage, dazzling her new friends and family. The author has very delicately shown the glamour, the love and the intense intimacy Tully experiences along the way, as well as the dangers women in this profession endured.
Tully meets some stunning characters here, as well as the less desirable, but they are the sort of characters that readers love to hate. It’s a book full of honest human emotion and fault, but with the touch of magic, this really has to be a one-of-a-kind story, and the author is to be commended for her originality as well as the outstanding writing.
When the final chapters loom, the reader is transported back to Newgate prison, where we learn the fate of Tully. Will she hang for murder? And will she ever see her first love again? I couldn’t possibly spoil the ending for readers, but the little I will say is that the final chapter of this book is one of the most spectacular I have ever read; so cleverly intertwined and utterly satisfying for a character that it’s impossible not to feel genuine fondness for after reading of her life.
One of the best books of 2016. Thank you to Harper Collins for allowing me to read an advance copy of this wonderful book.