Set in Victorian London and the countryside of Essex, Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent follows Cora Seaborne as she journeys with her son and his nanny, Martha, to the marshy (fictional) village of Aldwinter for a change of scenery after the death of her cruel husband. There, Cora learns about sightings of a mythical sea serpent whose potential is fueling the imaginations of the locals and inciting creature panic.
While in Essex, superstition and religion intersect, friendships are born and tested, and the lives of Perry’s characters are forever changed.
I was hoping for something intensely readable like Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith or Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night, but the reading of this was fairly laborious. It’s a hefty book with some smart writing and well-crafted passages, but the story never fully grabbed me and the book put me to sleep a few nights in a row.