This book is just what I hoped for with Sarah Perry’s new novel: chilling and wonderfully Gothic.
Melmoth the Witness has been roaming the earth for 2,000 years, seeking others to commiserate with her in their crimes of betrayal and cowardice. Melmoth is always in the shadows, her black shroud dripping on the cobblestones, her bloody feet leaving streaks on the floor. The imagery is eerie and those who see her suffer from their guilt. Melmoth is interspersed with a series of vignettes of the Witness’s encounters throughout history, each story coming together in a powerful denouement.
The story follows Helen Franklin, a lonely translator in Prague, who falls prey to the lure of the Melmoth legend after her friend Karel disappears. Helen investigates Karel’s Melmoth documents and realizes her connection to the legend is far stronger than she realized. This novel capitalizes on the fears of the guilty, their foreboding anxiety of being discovered, and the realization that there is no way out.
This is a solid follow-up to Perry’s The Essex Serpent. I look forward to reading her next one!
Many thanks to Custom House (HarperCollins) and Edelweiss for the advance copy in exchange for my review.