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Sarah Perry’s new novel Melmoth ties itself in knots

Melmoth is a book obsessed with morality, but littered with internal contradictions

Part of the front cover of Sarah Perry's Melmoth

Part of the front cover of Sarah Perry's Melmoth

Sarah Perry’s bestselling second novel The Essex Serpent was one of those books that plucked you from your seat in a couple of sentences and deposited you somewhere damp, Gothic and rather magical. Perry’s new novel, Melmoth, is another Gothic romp, but one more likely to perplex than enchant.

The novel takes its cue from Melmoth the Wanderer—an arcane horror story written by an Irish clergyman in 1820, in which a man, having…

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