Book Review: After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry

From the moment I cracked open its pages, I was transported into a world of enigmatic characters, eerie landscapes, and a sense of impending strangeness that left me both intrigued and unsettled. This is not your typical novel, and that’s precisely what makes it so captivating.

1 Sentence Summary: In “After Me Comes the Flood,” Sarah Perry crafts a haunting and atmospheric tale of a man’s quest for identity and belonging, blurring the lines between reality and dream, and leaving readers questioning the very nature of self.

After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry

TitleAfter Me Comes the Flood
AuthorSarah Perry
GenreFiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publication DateJune 26, 2014
Length256 pages

Where to Purchase

Book Summary

The story unfolds with John Cole, a middle-aged bookseller, embarking on a journey to visit his brother in a remote countryside cottage. But what begins as a simple road trip soon takes a surreal turn when John gets lost in the unfamiliar landscape and stumbles upon a dilapidated mansion inhabited by a group of eccentric and seemingly expectant strangers. They all mistake him for a long-lost friend, expecting him to fill a void he knows nothing about.

As John becomes entangled in the lives of these mysterious residents, the line between reality and illusion blurs. The novel is punctuated by enigmatic symbols, strange dreams, and a recurring sense of déjà vu, all of which contribute to an increasingly disorienting narrative. Perry skillfully manipulates time and perspective, drawing the reader into John’s fragmented consciousness.

Through a series of interconnected characters, each with their own secrets and desires, Perry weaves a tapestry of existential questions. What is identity? How much of it is shaped by external factors, by the expectations of others? These questions resonate deeply as John grapples with his newfound role and the uncanny familiarity he feels with these strangers.

The novel’s atmosphere is one of its most striking features. Perry paints a vivid picture of the isolated countryside, where the landscape itself becomes a character, looming large with its dense forests, abandoned cottages, and a river that holds its own secrets. The sense of isolation and foreboding is palpable, and it’s impossible not to feel a sense of unease as John delves deeper into this strange world.

Book Review

“After Me Comes the Flood” is a book that defies easy categorization, and that’s part of its allure. It’s a story that begs to be unraveled, much like the mysteries it contains. As I followed John Cole on his journey, I found myself questioning the very nature of reality and self.

One of the book’s strengths lies in its richly drawn characters. Each member of the enigmatic household that John encounters is a puzzle, their eccentricities and motivations slowly revealed as the narrative unfolds. Perry’s writing is imbued with a sense of curiosity and empathy, and I found myself both fascinated and disturbed by these characters, much like John himself.

The novel’s exploration of identity and the malleability of self is its central theme. John’s transformation from a simple bookseller into a figure of importance and intrigue raises profound questions about the nature of identity. How much of who we are is shaped by our circumstances and the expectations of others? Can we change our very essence in response to external forces?

The dreamlike quality of the narrative adds to the novel’s sense of mystery and ambiguity. Perry masterfully blurs the boundaries between reality and illusion, leaving the reader constantly questioning what is real and what is imagined. The recurring motifs of water, dreams, and déjà vu create a surreal atmosphere that lingers long after the book is finished.

The prose itself is beautifully crafted, with Perry’s lyrical descriptions painting a vivid picture of the countryside and its inhabitants. Her use of symbolism and metaphor adds depth to the narrative, inviting readers to peel back the layers and uncover hidden meanings.

That said, “After Me Comes the Flood” is not a book for everyone. Its deliberate pace and enigmatic storytelling may frustrate readers looking for a more straightforward narrative. At times, I found myself as lost as John in the maze of symbols and mysteries, struggling to piece together the larger puzzle.

“After Me Comes the Flood” is a novel that demands patience and a willingness to embrace ambiguity. It’s a thought-provoking exploration of identity, belonging, and the blurred lines between reality and dream. Sarah Perry’s writing is haunting and evocative, and her ability to create a sense of atmosphere is unparalleled. While it may not be a book for everyone, those who appreciate literary puzzles and existential questions will find it a captivating and immersive read. It’s a book that lingers in the mind, inviting contemplation long after the final page is turned.


  • Paula Davis

    Paula Davis is a dedicated and seasoned content writer for Dreaming and Reading, where she brings her extensive knowledge and passion for literature to a wide audience of fellow book enthusiasts. With the heart of a true bookworm, Paula has immersed herself in the literary world, devouring approximately 50 books annually for the last 15 years. This impressive reading habit has not only provided her with immense joy but has also significantly honed her expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness in the realm of book reviews. Her insightful and well-crafted reviews reflect her deep understanding and appreciation of various genres, offering valuable guidance to readers in search of their next great read. With a finger always on the pulse of the latest literary releases, Paula Davis is a trusted voice and a go-to source for book recommendations and reviews.

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