The Essex Serpent (2017)
In Essex, England, during the winter of 1893, there is anxious speculation regarding persons and animals reported missing in the swirling waters of the River Blackwater. Some locals are certain it’s the return of a monstrous, legendary sea beast, but amateur naturalist Cora Seaborne believes it to be a “living fossil” – a dinosaur that somehow survived extinction.
The Essex Serpent is Cora’s story; her “shameful happiness,” at the death of her abusive husband and excitement in her newfound life as a free-spirited woman and budding scientist. Her friends, and would-be lovers, dispute her beliefs yet find themselves swept up in the passion of her quest. Readers, too, begin questioning the serpent’s existence feeling the tension anytime characters walk the shore.
The novel interlaces Victorian mores, vivid characters, and gothic mystery within a beguiling and satisfying story. It’s historical fiction at its finest.
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Review by Pam Barry, Reference and Young Adult Librarian