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In this novel by Sarah Perry, Melmoth, the bloody footed wanderer, stalks those who are burdened with guilt.  It is a book exploring the labyrinth of loneliness experienced by the few characters who are selected by the darkly draped spectre.

The meeting started with a stunned silence but quickly developed.  Reading this book was generally felt to be hard going-experienced rather than enjoyed.  The structure was considered by some to be interesting and by others, confusing.  Was it meant to be scary?  No one was frightened.  Man's inhumanity to man and reading of the betrayal of the Jews in Prague was disturbing as was the separation of mothers and children.  The heavy guilt and gothic theme was felt to be evident throughout.

Comments noted :-

It was not a light read;  Atmospheric;  It's easy to condemn; Mortification - overdone?;  Do authors try too hard?;  Weather descriptions excellent;  Not a holiday read;  Follows a novelist's trend-layers upon layers;  It was hard to find and hold a theme.

Not everyone read the book, preferring not to enter a dark gothic world or not liking fantasy.

This book could only be recommended very selectively.


Review by Ruth Westley