The Essex Serpent
Why this book?
In The Essex Serpent, Perry’s prose marvelously evokes both the prejudices and ignorance of the times (late 19th century), and the settings (the bleak estuarine marshes of east Essex, as well as Victorian London). Her characterisation is also excellent (you don’t always like the main protagonist, but you relate to her and feel her pain, as you do with many of the more peripheral characters). Plus, the storyline includes fossils (I like fossils, but that’s just me!). Perry also successfully applies modern ideas to the Victorian world, something to be avoided by all but the most skilled writers. Then there’s the plot, always making you wonder—is it supernatural, is it not?