For centuries, the mysterious dark-robed figure has roamed the globe, searching for those whose complicity and cowardice have fed into the rapids of history’s darkest waters-and now, in Sarah Perry’s breathtaking follow-up to The Essex Serpent, it is heading in our direction.
It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy.
But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .
This month I decided to set myself the genre goal of Gothic Fiction. It is a genre I don’t read much of at all and only fairly recently came across it. When I was searching through the Library App this one came up. Now that I have finished reading it, it seems to also have a touch of horror about it! It was an interesting read, I loved the content, but the writing style left me a bit confused.
The writing was interesting. It was written with a mixture of tenses, formats and without chapters. It was basically a story interspersed with letters and comments directed straight at you, the reader. When you read the end it sort of makes sense why it was set out this way, which is why I rated it 3.5/4⭐. It took me a while to get used to the writing and at some points I just wanted to get to the end of what I was reading. I felt that it could have been tightened up and split up a bit more. The description however was excellent and really brought the story to life. It was just a shame that the format of the story was confusing and made the story feel longer than it was.
As mentioned above there weren’t chapters, there were just parts, 3 in total. It made the story feel long, but I can see the reasoning behind it (the end of the book ties it up). It is therefore a difficult one to rate as at times I was just reading and not feeling like I had accomplished anything!
The characters were excellent. They all had things to hide and it was interesting to follow their journeys and to see how they got to where they were. Their backgrounds were gradually brought to light and built up via narration, letters and conversation.
Lastly the settings. They were well described, but I wasn’t always sure of the time period that I was in. I believe the main story was set in the present time and that we were then reading about the past, but some of the descriptions from the present day made it seem like it was in a different time period.
Overall great spooky content, but it was presented in a confusing way.
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I agree! It took me a minute to get used to Sarah Perry’s writing style, but I read this years ago and I still think about the ending!
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It is a freaky ending. Much like The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell…
It’s so hard for me to write reviews for books that are not my usual genre’s. I’m glad you enjoyed this, the ending sounds terrific!
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I agree. I don’t really read non-fiction and when I did it was a disappointment and harder to review.
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