Dark places: Sarah Perry talks about her thrilling new book Mel­moth

The new novel by Sarah Perry is out this month. It’s fright­en­ingly good, writes Rowan Man­tell

Norfolk - - INSIDE -

Is she watch­ing? Fol­low­ing? Hid­ing in the shad­ows, her black dress darker than sin, her mis­ery swirling to­wards you, ready to trap you, take you with her on her piti­less, pun­ish­ing jour­ney?

She lurks in le­gends around the world – wan­der­ing from tragedy to tragedy, bear­ing wit­ness to the very worst that men and women can do. Now she is pac­ing on wrecked and bleed­ing feet through the pages of a se­duc­tive, com­pelling story by best­selling Nor­wich au­thor Sarah Perry.

The new novel is haunted by a shad­owy fig­ure from phan­tom folk­lore. As the story ranges from Manila to Prague, via East Anglia, Mel­moth is watch­ing.

The book, also called Mel­moth, opens in a win­try Prague, the pierc­ing cold and soar­ing ar­chi­tec­ture a back­drop to the grad­ual unravellin­g of a care­fully-hid­den past. He­len Franklin is our guide to the city and along­side her we dis­cover manuscript­s, let­ters and tes­ti­monies and a cast of char­ac­ters con­ceal­ing se­crets, which fuse into an un­set­tling and ir­re­sistible read.

Like Mel­moth her­self, Sarah Perry’s novel seeks out some of the dark­est events of hu­man his­tory. Of­ten there is a fo­cus on the small, un­re­mark­able, ev­ery­day ac­tions and in­ac­tions of or­di­nary peo­ple which lead to un­think­able hor­rors.

And al­ways lonely, Mel­moth is watch­ing and wait­ing, to of­fer the guilty a choice. The novel has al­ready been called ‘a beau­ti­ful, dev­as­tat­ing, bril­liant book’ by Mar­ion Keyes, and

The Woman in Black au­thor Su­san Hill says: “Sarah Perry is a won­der­ful writer, the real thing. Mel­moth packs a punch of at­mos­phere, creepi­ness, fear and melan­choly. I am go­ing to move it

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