1893. Recently widowed Cora Seabourne, her Socialist companion and her taciturn son take lodgings in Colchester. Cora's interest in natural sciences is pricked by tales of a mythical serpent causing destruction further along the coast around the village of Aldwinter. There she meets the vicar William Ransome, who does not share Cora's scientific beliefs nor those of his superstitious parishioners. A volatile mix of emotions and beliefs will change everything.
Hard to categorise but I loved this book. It’s sort of Dickensian and Gothic but so, so, so much more; politics, science, faith, medicine, folklore, business, the supernatural and social injustice all wrapped up in an extraordinary tale. It’s a book to get lost in with a plot full of twists and turns, and characters that live in your head. It’s all set against a beautiful evocation of the Essex countryside changing through the seasons in the late 19th century. Wonderful.