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The Electrical Venus

Written by Julie Mayhew

Key Stage 3

LoveReading View on The Electrical Venus

Unusual story, with a scientific bent, historical setting and intriguing idea.


The Electrical Venus Synopsis

Can this shocking new feeling be love, or is it electrickery? In a lowly side-show fair in eighteenth-century England, teenager Mim is struggling to find her worth as an act. Not white, but not black enough to be truly exotic, her pet parrot who speaks four languages is a bigger draw than her. But Alex, the one-armed boxer boy, sees her differently. And she, too, feels newly interested in him. But then Dr Fox arrives with his scientific kit for producing 'electrickery' - feats of electrical magic these bawdy audiences have never seen before. To complete his act, Fox chooses Mim to play the 'Electrical Venus'. Her popularity - and the electric-shocking kisses she can provide for a penny - mean takings are up, slop is off the menu and this spark between her and Fox must surely be love. But is this starring role her true worth, or is love worth more than a penny for an electrifying kiss? An intoxicating and atmospheric coming of age story set in the filth and thrill of a travelling show during the height of the Georgian Enlightenment.

The Electrical Venus Press Reviews

A welcome reminder that the terms 'literary fiction' and 'young adult' are not mutually exclusive: a sophisticated text offering up both intellectual and emotional pleasures. A must-read. -- Claire Hennessy - The Irish Times

A magical book, with magical characters: outsiders, adventurers and misfits battling for love and acceptance in the harsh underworld of the travelling fair. I was rooting for Mim and Alex all the way. Mayhew's language zips and sparkles on the page like the Electrical Venus's own 'electrickery' - Maria McCann

A great feminist historical fiction novel with a romance and a PoC heroine who leaps from the page. I raced through this book - Laura Noakes

Mayhew's a fantastically evocative writer and her decision to tell the story as (mostly) a series of one-sided conversations keeps us engrossed while moving the narrative along at a terrific pace. It's easy to see how The Electrical Venus originally began life as a BBC radio play. There are also several themes in this book that are just as compelling as the central story - this is as much a book about lost childhood and the need to realise your dreams as much as it is a romance. Mayhew also does fine work of weaving disability, race and gender into the discussion. The Electrical Venus may be set in Georgian England, but its subtext is very contemporary and timelessly important - Starburst Magazine

Mayhew builds tension like no other, positively choking us with it. Mim is a great character, naive for sure but positively hopeful. She reminds me of many young girls, waiting to reach their full potential. Naively fumbling about until you figure out what you really want. Alex is by far the most charming of characters, positively electrifying. And George the parrot keeps the spirit of the travelling show alive - A Writer's Desires

This is such a fun, magical little read all with the slightly sinister undercurrent of what true poverty was in Georgian England - Island Girl Reads

This is an electrifying read and one for the adventurous reader, reminiscent as it is of the writing of both Leon Garfield and Angela Carter - Books For Keeps

The Electrical Venus is a coming-of-age story in which Mim develops her confidence and understands her self-worth. It is a turbulent journey of unrequited love, false love and true love - Armadillo Magazine

I really enjoyed this book, and if you fancy something a little different I'd urge you to give it a go - Berkhamstead Living

It's such an incredibly beautiful book - Fantastic Book Dragon

This unique story bring[s] the eighteenth century vividly to life in all its colour and harshness - Inis Reading Guide

Very engaging, with a highly unusual and romantic yet scientific flavour - School Librarian

Book Information

ISBN: 9781471407048
Publication date: 19th April 2018
Author: Julie Mayhew
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 288 pages
Year Groups: Key Stage 3

About Julie Mayhew

Julie Mayhew writes plays for radio and the stage. Her short stories are published in the UK and the US, and she is working on a second novel. Julie grew up in Peterborough, studied Journalism at Bournemouth University and trained as an actress at Drama Studio London. She still acts (a bit), mostly for BBC Radio 4. Home is now Hertfordshire, where she lives with her husband and two young sons. Julie Mayhew was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award in 2014 for her debut novel, RED INK. Her second novel, the critically acclaimed THE BIG LIE, was nominated for the ...

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