Haunted by the French Revolution, Marie Tussaud has locked herself away in her shop with the death masks she was forced to make to avoid the guillotine. Philidor, a famous magician, offers her the chance to accompany him to London to assist in creating a wax automaton that will bring them both money and success.
Following a disastrous performance on their opening night in which the wax on their prized spectacle melts, the eccentric Duke, William Cavendish, invites them to his rambling estate, Welbeck, where he suggests they take up residence, use his underground ballroom for a new show and in return create a private commission for him: a wax automaton in the likeness of Elanor, a beautiful girl who mysteriously disappeared from the estate when he was a child.
In this delicious novel of twists and turns, Welbeck, with its locked doors and rooms, is full of secrets and no-one is who they seem. There is the seductive aura of Shelley, Dickens and Du Maurier in Tussaud. Marie must fight for survival in a world dominated by male advantage and power in a mesmerising story filled with wisdom about human behaviour and motivations.
'Thrilling, eerie, fun, and psychologically compelling, Tussaud cleverly blurs the line between history and the fantastical to create a Gothic delight of mysterious mansions, grimy London streets, stage magicians, wax-work automatons, secrets and subterfuges. Mary Shelley would be proud.' - H.G. Parry, author of The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep
'Lies, treasons and twists will lure and enthral the reader. At the heart of Tussaud a mysterious automaton challenges the limits of its physical body, craving for a conscience. The reader is in for wondrous ride as Belinda Lyons-Lee poignantly captures Marie Tussaud's proud self-denial, her struggle to achieve independence in a world dominated by con-artists, and her rare talent to create the most perfect illusion of life.' - Mariano Tomatis, Italian writer and magician
'This book takes the documented strange life of Marie Tussaud, adds a little supposition and invention, and turns it into tale of guilt, betrayal, science and superstition...wonderfully eerie and ticks all the boxes for great Gothic fiction: noises in empty corridors, mysterious happenings, suspicious servants and secrets that are begging to be told. None of the layered and complex characters are quite what they seem and after the surprising ending you're left, just like them, wondering if what you've seen was the product of science or something supernatural. Tussaud reads like the attic child of Daphne du Maurier and Robertson Davies, perfect for fans of Sarah Perry, Bridget Collins and Susan Hill.' - Books+Publishing