From the #1 bestselling author of The Essex Serpent comes a dazzlingly inventive and deeply moving novel that speaks urgently to our times.
Twenty years ago Helen Franklin did something she cannot forgive herself for, and she has spent every day since barricading herself against its memory. But her sheltered life is about to change.
A strange manuscript has come into her possession. It is filled with testimonies from the darkest chapters of human history, which all record sightings of a tall, silent woman in black, with unblinking eyes and bleeding feet: Melmoth, the loneliest being in the world. Condemned to walk the Earth forever, she tries to beguile the guilty and lure them away for a lifetime wandering alongside her.
Everyone that Melmoth seeks out must make a choice: to live with what they've done, or be led into the darkness. Helen can't stop reading, or shake the feeling that someone is watching her. As her past finally catches up with her, she too must choose which path to take.
Exquisitely written, and gripping until the very end, this is a masterpiece of moral complexity, asking us profound questions about mercy, redemption and how to make the best of our conflicted world.
'Mythic, ominous and sensitively human, Melmoth is haunting in all the best ways... including the disquieting ones.' Frances Hardinge
'This is a beautiful, devastating, brilliant book. It affected me so much I was shaking after I read it. The exquisite, immersive writing compelled me to keep reading even through the horrors described.' Marian Keyes
'Sarah Perry is a wonderful writer, the real thing. Her new novel Melmoth packs a punch of atmosphere, creepiness, fear and melancholy.' Susan Hill, bestselling author of The Woman in Black