Reviews

Melmoth, by Sarah Perry

laurizzie's review

Go to review page

4.0

Captivating and unsettling. Not as much of a 'me' book as The Essex Serpent, but it will still stay with me for a long time.

katherinejayne's review against another edition

Go to review page

2.0

2.5.

After reading ‘Essex Serpent’ I was expecting to enjoy this book more. I found both to have slow starts, and whilst ES picked up pace and became intriguing, this became a challenge to finish.

The jumping around between characters and narratives didn’t appeal to me personally. None of the characters were interesting or particularly engaging and even Melmoth didn’t hold much appeal.

An alright read.

hazzac100's review

Go to review page

challenging dark mysterious sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

thatkeeginlady's review against another edition

Go to review page

2.0

This book was all over the place. I tried to read it so many times and could never really get through more than one chapter at a time. I enjoyed it OK but again just found it really hard to get into and the stories were at times hard to follow. Stories told by one person that folded into another story with another story following that to go back to the original story it got too hard to follow. The ending was eh. Odd. I got it, just left feeling eh.

amandaklwrites's review

Go to review page

challenging dark mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

plantbirdwoman's review against another edition

Go to review page

5.0

This is a ghost story. Or, perhaps more properly, it's a story of the undead. Not vampires. No, this undead persona does not suck the life's blood of those still fully alive; she is merely an observer. She bears witness to all the cruelty and violence of which humanity is capable and, in her continued existence, we see the toll that such witness-bearing takes.

Melmoth is a character from a gothic masterpiece called Melmoth the Wanderer, written in 1820 by Charles Maturin. In that work, Melmoth was a man. Others have written tales since that featured the character but always as a man. Perry updated the myth, changing the central character to a woman and including various folklore and Christian images.

I loved Perry's last book, The Essex Serpent, and I came to this one expecting to love it, but I found that I didn't. At least not immediately. I found it hard to get into at first, I think, primarily because the central character, Helen Franklin, is a bit of a cipher at first. There's not much to distinguish her or to make us want to know more about her. She is, in fact, a rather lonely and pitiable character.

Helen is English, but when we meet her she is living in Prague where she is a translator of implement instruction manuals. She is described as small and insignificant with an air of sadness and even self-hatred about her. Only much later do we begin to understand the source of that sadness and self-hatred.

Helen has a friend (one of her few) named Karel and it is through him that she first learns the myth of Melmoth, or Melmotka, as she is known in Prague. Karel gives her a collection of texts that tell of a weary wraith-like figure in black who wanders the earth with bleeding feet as she bears witness to sorrow. Perry introduces us to these various texts.

They tell of Josef Hoffman who grew up in wartime Czechoslovakia and who first sees Melmotka as he is marched off to a concentration camp. There is also a letter from Sir David Ellerby written to his wife, Elizabeth, whom he tells of meeting a woman in an inn who had encountered Melmoth. We read the "Cairo Journals of Anna Marney," which tell of the life of a Turkish beggar who in his earlier life had been a cog in the bureaucratic machine that brought about the massacre of Armenians. These historical notes are compelling and it was with them that I really began to appreciate what Perry was doing.

We keep coming back to Helen's life and, finally, her great and original sin is revealed, involving a stint in Manila where she fell in love with a young Filipino trainee doctor and met a woman who had been attacked with acid by her ex-lover. I don't want to reveal any plot spoilers, so I won't say more.

In the end, I found myself greatly admiring Sarah Perry's work here. She builds her postmodern gothic piece by piece and manages to maintain throughout that atmospheric sense of something, some shadowy presence, just there beyond the limits of our vision. We know she is there, watching, witnessing all the scenes of horror that we have been a party to throughout our lives. But she views us with pity and sorrow. And with longing. She is so, so lonely.

ladykatiereads's review

Go to review page

4.0

I got a free paperback copy of this book from work, at B&N, courtesy of Harper Collins. I was immediately drawn to the cover the day we got it in and I thought 'I have to read this!' I didn't really know it would be a Gothic story completely focused on this figure coming to take sinners to die with her. It was a super strange concept, but also very interesting. I had never heard of Melmoth the Wanderer before, and I think the way Perry wrote this ominous story really brought a sense of fear and paranoia to me as a reader as well as to the characters within the novel. This was the perfect spooky read for October, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to pick this book up!

To read my full spoiler-free review, click here:https://ladykatiereads.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/lets-talk-about-melmoth-by-sarah-perry-spoiler-free-arc-review

hollvanne's review

Go to review page

dark tense

3.0

arachnophobia's review

Go to review page

challenging dark emotional reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I don't like books with magical aspects/characters but I loved how the magical realism of this novel was grounded in a gothic sensibility. Sarah Perry wrote this throughout chronic illness and her recovery. 

rackle's review

Go to review page

dark emotional mysterious reflective sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0