When Cora Seagrove’s cruel husband dies, she moves to Essex along with her autistic son Francis and her companion Martha. There she hears the story of the Essex serpent, who the villagers believe has returned after a man’s body was found in the river. She also meets the rector William Ransome, and there is an unspoken attraction between them.
The gothic elements of the novel are prevalent, the villagers believe they are being punished and that is why the serpent has returned. There is also a lot of hysteria, particularly during one incident at the school.
I was a little underwhelmed with this novel. The writing style is absolutely beautiful, but I found the pace very slow, particularly during the first half. For me it didn’t quite live up to the hype it has received.