Published October 2018
An historical fiction novel set in Prague with a supernatural element, Melmoth by Sarah Perry held so much promise for me. Unfortunately this highly anticipated read left me feeling a little underwhelmed by the end.
Our main character Helen is riddled with guilt and living an ordinary life when she is given a manuscript and told about Melmoth. Melmoth the witness is a tall woman dressed in black with bleeding feet condemned to walk the earth forever. She’s the loneliest being in the world and tries to lure the guilty to wander the earth beside her.
Despite the awesome premise, some of the gothic tropes in this novel soon became repetitive and therefore lost their power to move me. For instance, there were so many jackdaws (crows) throughout the novel that their appearance quickly lost their 'creep factor'.
The best parts by far were the 'stories within the main story' in the form of the manuscript, letters and documents. They contained information across time from other people who had encountered Melmoth and these encounters and backstories made for interesting reading.
I particularly enjoyed uncovering the reason behind Helen's guilt and belief she must suffer for the sins of her past and I could easily have dwelled in her tale much longer. However her overarching story failed to hold my interest.
Exploring themes of redemption, guilt and perhaps even loneliness, Melmoth will appeal to historical fiction lovers who enjoy dark and mysterious stories.
My rating = ***