Cover image for Melmoth [text (large print)]
Title:
Melmoth [text (large print)]
ISBN:
9780062859686
Personal Author:
Edition:
First HarperLuxe edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperLuxe, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
377 pages (large print) ; 23 cm
Summary:
"It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts--or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy. But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . ."-- Provided by publisher.
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Book Fiction Perry
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Book Fiction Perry
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Book Fiction Perry
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Summary

Summary

"Masterful...scary and smart, working as a horror story but also a philosophical inquiry into the nature of will and love. Perry did as much in her richly praised novel The Essex Serpent, but this is a deeper, more complex novel and more rewarding." --Washington Post

For centuries, the mysterious dark-robed figure has roamed the globe, searching for those whose complicity and cowardice have fed into the rapids of history's darkest waters--and now, in Sarah Perry's breathtaking follow-up to The Essex Serpent, it is heading in our direction.

It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts--or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy.

But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears. . . .


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Loosely inspired by Charles Maturin's 1820 novel, Melmoth the Wanderer, the successor to Perry's 2016 novel, The Essex Serpent, is an unforgettable achievement. At 42, British-born translator Helen Franklin lives in Prague, denying herself love and pleasure to atone for an unnamed wrong she committed 20 years before. In December 2016, she has a disturbing encounter with her friend, university professor Karel Prazan, during which Karel clutches a leather file and speaks wildly of Melmoth, a specter that folktales claim was among the women who glimpsed the risen Christ. After denying her sight of God, she was cursed to wander forever, seeking out the wicked in the hopes that bearing witness will win her salvation. When Karel suddenly disappears, Helen delves into his file, which chronicles Melmoth's appearances to individuals culpable of individual or collective acts of cruelty. Soon, she too is haunted by a shadowy figure and drawn inexorably toward a reckoning with her past. Though rich in gothic tropes and sinister atmosphere, the novel transcends pastiche. Perry's heartbreaking, horrifying monster confronts the characters not just with the uncanny but also with the human: with humanity's complicity in history's darkest moments, its capacity for guilt, its power of witness, and its longing for both companionship and redemption. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Like the Wandering Jew, Perry's nightmarish Melmoth the Witness ranges the earth recording horrors wrought by humankind. She watches and tracks individuals (who feel hairs prick on their neck and search the shadows for visions) whose sins cannot be forgiven, upon whom she preys with flashes of magical realism, recalling the imagery in Perry's The Essex Serpent (2017). The nonlinear time line of historical events and the nested stories involving wide-ranging and complex characters may sometimes make readers feel uneasy or even lost. But once we gain our sea legs, this stylized, postmodern work by a masterly writer compels us to see genocide, war, deportation, and even compassionate deadly crimes through new eyes that reflect the characters' perspectives. Helen Franklin is a young British woman working as a translator in Prague, where she and her new friends, Karel and Thea, discover a shocking document describing the wanderings of the mythical Melmoth. Later, after reading the unforgettable horrors detailed in the document, Helen breaks down, seemingly unable to withstand the starkly upsetting images, thrumming inevitability of remembrance, and the guilt we all share in some way. This is a sobering, disturbing, yet powerful and moving book that cannot fail to impress. The stories-within-stories and the Jewish themes recall Dara Horn's The World to Come (2006) and Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (2013), although Melmoth presents different kinds of nightmares.--Jen Baker Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

ELEVATION, by Stephen King. (Scribner, $19.95.) The master of horror brings us back to the fictional town of Castle Rock for a short novel about a man and his curious affliction: Though he looks as if he weighs 240 pounds, the scale says otherwise. The numbers keep getting lower and lower as the tension in this fantastical story increases. DAEMON VOICES: On Stories and Storytelling, by Philip Pullman. (Knopf, $30.) This enchanting illustrated collection of essays and lectures by the British author best known for his children's trilogy "His Dark Materials" is animated by wit, erudition and a passionate interest in how stories are made. MELMOTH, by Sarah Perry. (Custom House, $27.99.) In this Gothic stunner, set chiefly in contemporary Prague and based loosely on the 19th-century horror novel "Melmoth the Wanderer," a cursed woman has roamed the earth throughout history, bearing witness to human suffering. SONS OF CAIN: A History of Serial Killers From the Stone Age to the Present, by Peter Vronsky. (Berkley, paper, $17.) A lineup of fabled murderers, with special emphasis on the "golden age" of serial killers in America (1950-2000), draws a link between the trained killers of wartime and the generations that follow them. IN THE NAME OF THE CHILDREN: An F.B.I. Agent's Relentless Pursuit of the Nation's Worst Predators, by Jeffrey L. Rinek and Marilee Strong. (BenBella, paper, $16.95.) Revisiting some of his most important and affecting cases, Rinek gives readers a detailed account of the F.B.I.'s tactics and procedures. IN THE HOUSE IN THE DARK OF THE WOODS, by Laird Hunt. (Little, Brown, $22.) Hunt's slim, dark novel reads like a fairy tale more twisted than Grimm. There are witches and a menacing character named Granny Someone and a lot to be scared of in the cellar. Hunt evokes countless stories embedded in the American consciousness - and then makes them even more terrifying. CITY OF CROWS, by Chris Womersley. (Europa, paper, $17.) Set amid a plague in 17th-century France, this chilling novel features a mother who succumbs to witchcraft and a grifler with a gift for the tarot. The author's enthusiasm fuels the slow-burning horror of his tale. FAKE BLOOD, written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner. (Simon & Schuster, $14.99; ages 10 and up.) This delightful graphic novel cleverly juxtaposes a preteen crush with vampires, and one fierce vampire slayer. A WINTER'S PROMISE, by Christelle Dabos. Translated by Hildegard Serle. (Europa, $19.95; ages 12 and up.) A French best seller, this fantasy is the first of a quartet about a girl in a matriarchal society who's sent to a foreboding island for an arranged marriage. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Library Journal Review

Having summoned a squiggly, writhing creature in her critically acclaimed The Essex Serpent, Perry conjures a different kind of monster, Melmoth, an ancient roving crone, dressed in black, and trailing whiffs of death and destruction. Helen Franklin is an English nonentity of a certain age residing in Prague. She happens on a musty manuscript setting out Melmoth's story. What could possibly link Helen with the monster? As with many monsters, Melmoth is cobbled from bits and bobs. There is Charles Maturin's 1820 classic gothic tale, Melmoth the Wanderer, traces of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, hints of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and "The Birds," and a large helping of original Perry. The author transforms the central figure from a male traveler into a female gazer, with looks that can kill. -VERDICT This is a dusty mansion, with small manuscript-filled rooms, creaky stairs, multiple twists and turns, and loads of angst. For readers who favor ghost stories as bedtime reading, this fever dream of a novel will prove as compelling and all-consuming as The Essex Serpent. [See Prepub Alert, 4/23/18.]-Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.