The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Moving between Essex and London, myth and modernity, Cora Seaborne’s spirited search for the Essex Serpent encourages all around her to test their allegiance to faith or reason in an age of rapid scientific advancement. At the same time, the novel explores the boundaries of love and friendship and the allegiances that we have to one another. The depth of feeling that the inhabitants of Aldwinter share are matched by their city counterparts as they strive to find the courage to express and understand their deepest desires, and strongest fears.

Published: May 2016

Published Edition: April 2017

Publishers: Serpent’s Tail

Pages: 418

Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Goodreads Star Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


I had been tempted to pick this book up for over a year and I did see the book float it’s way through bookstagram and youtube. So I thought, since the hype of the book has now reached the shore I will pick it up and read it. Technically it was going to be the final book of 2020 but that plan went out the window, so it is the first book that I finished in 2021.

I didn’t know much about this book going into it but I found myself curious over the mystery and even the characters. Cora’s arc throughout this book was this obsessive interest in the Essex Serpent. My only critique about her is, while throughout the book it is mentioned that Cora and her husband were not good and especially to the point of abusive, I was waiting to see some ptsd effects when it comes towards men. It felt very odd for the relationship to be known as abusive and to not have any effects after he died.

This book felt clumsy and slow. The book gave off a dark academia vibe with the myth and mystery of the serpent, but it got overshadowed by the love triangle (yes, I did write that). I couldn’t find myself likeing much of the book mostly because of the slow pace, the build up into making it into a gothic tale fell quite flat because the writing felt bleh. My one issue was the sudden change of character’s at the end of the paragraph to another somewhere else, it definitely confused me.

The love triangle felt very generic and very predictable. From the first meeting of Cora and Will, you knew that there was expected of sparks flying especially with the growing interest in the serpent but the major thing that I made me realise that it was a bad idea for the love triangle was the fact that Will was a Pastor and is also a Father. It didn’t sit well with me which is why I was content with what happened between the two characters.

My thoughts on the serpent was so lack luster, especially because Cora did not get to witness the discovery. It felt very cheated to me, espcially with all that build up. When it was revealed to be what it was, it fell flat on it’s face with a side of chips.


I hope that you are well. If you read this book what did you think? Let me know, I would love to chat xx

Happy Reading

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