The Essex serpent | Sarah Perry

A tasty brew of spooky Victoriana. In an evocatively-drawn hinterland on the ominous shores of the Thames estuary, something narsty in the water is striking fear into the locals. There’s some good ideological tag-wrestling between religious faith, science, folklore and The Old Ways, so it’s an enjoyably thinky book without being overly didactic. An engaging cast of unconventional characters and mysterious events kept my interest: in particular the curious little family of the enigmatic young widow, neuro-diverse son, and revolutionary nursemaid were all pleasingly different. Despite the story losing momentum a bit towards the end, still a big satisfying read.