Books like the Essex Serpent

Books like the Essex Serpent

Design by Michael Stillwell

Adapting a bestselling book into a movie or TV show could easily turn out to be hit or miss, but Apple TV+ seems to have managed to make Sarah Perry’s best-selling novel The Essex Serpent serial. Set in Victorian England, the gothic storyline follows London widow Cora Seaborne (played by Claire Danes) who moves to Essex to investigate reports of a mythical serpent. There, the protagonist meets the village minister, Will Ransome (played by Tom Hiddleston), and the two become entangled in an emotional affair. But when tragedy strikes, things go awry and the locals blame Cora for luring the sea creature.

If you’ve read Perry’s book before or started watching the new series and love the plot and characters, you’ve come to the right place. With summer fast approaching, there’s no better time to stock up on flippers to read at the beach. Here, the best Gothic books to chew on if you can’t get enough The Essex Serpent.


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After Me Comes the Deluge: A Novel

fans of The Essex Serpent will also love Perry’s first novel, After me comes the flood. The story follows London bookstore owner John Cole who finds himself in a dilapidated house after his car breaks down on the side of a lonely road. As he approaches, a laughing woman he has never met addresses him by name and reveals that she has been waiting for him. Upon entering the house, John encounters a mysterious group of residents, all of whom claim to know who he is and that they have been waiting for his arrival.

Also by Perry, Melmoth is loosely based on the 1820 Gothic book Melmoth the Wanderer by Irish playwright Charles Maturin. In Perry’s version, Helen Franklin – an English translator living in Prague – receives a manuscript describing encounters with Melmoth the Witness, a mysterious black-robed woman who is doomed to wander the earth, witnessing atrocities in humanity , after seeing the resurrection of Christ and denying it. As the story progresses, Helen begins to realize that Melmoth might be following her and she is forced, literally, to face her demons.


The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock: A Novel

Thorndike Press Large Print

Bookworms won’t tire of Imogen Hermes Gowar’s historical novel about Jonah Hancock, a prosperous merchant in 1780s London, whose life is turned upside down when he unexpectedly receives a dead mermaid. Soon after, Hancock finds himself in high society and meets Angelica Neal, a famous courtesan with whom he strikes up an unconventional romance. But as the plot thickens, the two face great obstacles in their love affair, possibly due to the power of the mermaid.


The Miniaturist: A Novel

Jessie Burton’s 2015 novel based on a true story is sure to fill your gap Essex snakebig hole in your summer reading list. Set in 17th century Amsterdam, The miniaturist follows 18-year-old Nella Oortman, whose world is turned upside down after her estranged new husband Johannes Brandt gives her a wardrobe-sized replica of their home. As Nella begins to deliver the gift – with the help of a miniaturist – she begins to uncover unusual secrets about her husband’s family and the dangers that await them.


Remarkable Creatures: A Novel

If you enjoyed the paleontological aspect of The Essex Serpentyou will love Notable Creatures. Based on real-life events and people, Tracy Chevalier’s novel is set in 19th-century England and tells the story of uneducated Mary Anning who discovers an unusual fossilized skeleton, which shakes the scientific community. . When she befriends middle-class Elizabeth Philpot, who has her own passion for fossils, the two form an unlikely bond and face a series of obstacles, including sexism in a male-dominated society. and long-held religious beliefs about extinction.

From the same author of The miniaturist, The muse travels back and forth between 1930s Spain and 1960s London and talks about an unusual painting that surfaces in a gallery. Throughout the story, Trinidadian Odelle Bastien, a typist who works at said gallery, makes it her mission to find out more about the work of art and delves into the mystery of its origin, from whom the painted and what ultimately happened to him.


Once upon a time there was a river: a novel

Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Once upon a time there was a river is another great read if you were a fan of The Essex Serpent. On a dark winter’s night by the Thames, an injured man staggers through an old inn with an unresponsive girl in his arms. It is only later that the girl suddenly comes back to life, but remains mute, leading the townspeople to attempt to solve the mystery of where she belongs. But when three families come forward to claim her as their daughter, things get complicated and their own secrets begin to come to light.


The Silent Companions: A Novel

Set in Victorian England, The silent companions follows pregnant and newly widowed Else Bainbridge as she tries to navigate her life on her late husband’s crumbling estate. But while exploring the house, she finds old newspapers and a silent companion, who is a painted wooden figure that looks a lot like her. Although the residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, Elsie is determined to find out more about her origins and, along the way, learns a series of shocking family secrets.

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