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Literary Locations of Elizabeth Macneal

  • Submitted: 14th April 2021

The fantastical, magical world of Elizabeth Macneal

Literary Locations of Elizabeth Macneal – Elizabeth Macneal has written two novels set in the most magical and fantastical settings I think I have ever read. The Doll Factory evokes a world of china dolls and gothic depictions of people and animals.

Literary Locations of Elizabeth Macneal

The latest novel, The Circus of Wonders immerses you into the world of the Victorian Circus. Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders is in town….

Circus of Wonders Elizabeth Macneal

This brings the world of the Victorian circus to life. This is not a circus of sparkles and dreams. It’s grim, exploitative, yet darkly magical. The setting sparkles and glistens with authenticity. It is  a dark underworld where danger lurks around every corner.

‘’In this age of wonder, epiphanies are born in the ecstasies of dreams and fevers.’’

The author has crafted a wonderful and fantastical circus before your very eyes.  You are there in the circus with the sights, sounds and smells. The circus arena is a stage of delights.  There’s  a hot air balloon and dancing poodles. Wait until you see the skin of a living picture….

There are interesting themes of obsession, darkness and the treatment of people with deformities and even just freckles…

”Girls are rewarded with kingdoms; deformities are given as punishments. The greedy hunchback is cursed with a second hump on the front of his chest; a spiteful sister is punished by being given a second nose.”

The Doll Factory

The Doll Factory Elizabeth macneal

This also looks at a circus in one respect – The Great Exhibition in London. Huge excitement builds as the preparations for the event at Hyde Park start. You can imagine the excitement at the time – Charles Darwin, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll were just some of the famous people to attend. This is where the novel starts and the tension and flavour of the day come through loud and clear….

Wait until you enter Silas Reed’s Shop of Curiosities Antique and New…..

”When the streets are at the darkest and quietest, a girl settles at a small desk in the cellar of a dollmaker’s shop. A bald china head sits in front of her and watches her with a vacant stare. She squeezes red and white watercolours on to an oyster shell, sucks the end of her brush, and adjusts the looking glass before her. The candle hisses. The girl narrows her eyes at the black paper.”

Think an eccentric collector of curiosities with a dream to build his own museum to house his strange artefacts. A man who works providing taxidermy services to the medical profession but this is not what he in interested in as his shop in Covent Garden will testify…..


Two gothically deliciously dark locations from the mind of Ms Macneal….Enter at your peril and enjoy.

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