People die . . . but love endures immortal.
Lord Geoffrey Thraxton is notorious in Victorian society—a Byronesque rakehell with a reputation as the "wickedest man in London." But on a fog-shrouded morning in Highgate Cemetery, Thraxton encounters a spectral wraith that stirs his morbid fascination with death and the supernatural. After surviving a pistol duel, Thraxton boasts his contempt for death and insults the attending physician. It is a mistake he will regret, for Silas Garrette is a deranged sociopath and chloroform-addict whose mind was broken on the battlefields of Crimea. When Thraxton falls in love with a mysterious woman who haunts Highgate Cemetery by night, he unwittingly provides the murderous doctor with the perfect means to punish a man with no fear of death.
Along the way, the narrative sweeps the reader through every level of Victorian society: from champagne soirees in the mummy rooms of the British Museum, through Chinese opium dens and London's most notorious and dangerous slums, beginning and returning to Highgate Cemetery, the most beautiful and atmospheric necropolis in London.
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"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 spirits who taunt him. Internally, meanwhile, he is 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 adamant 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 a 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."
"...this is a daringly original melange of many different genres and styles...The book's plot, involving everything from corpse-takers to a stereotypical mystery woman (and almost all of it revolving around creepy old Highgate Cemetery, much like Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry), moves steadily along, but the real attraction here is Entwistle's cheerfully confident prose, which sparkles and unsettles by turns. Enthusiastically recommended."
—Historical Novel Society (read the full review)