(Image courtesy of Goodreads.com)
Blah. I was actually all set to do a VanDuinen Studio blog post this week, but that's going to have to wait a week. This book pissed me off so much that I have to write about it.
The Essex Serpent was an impulse grab in the "new" section of the Dexter District Library. I absolutely adored the cover art, and the blurb made the book sound just as interesting. Cora Seaborne is newly widowed and forever a natural sciences addict. She goes to a little coastal town in Essex to look for fossils, and instead stumbles upon the legend of the Essex serpent, which has supposedly resurfaced after decades in the deep. She meets a clergyman in the town of Aldwinter, and their friendship sets up a delightful religion vs. science debate that would've made a great novel, had the author actually continued that line of thinking. Instead, she drops that plot like a hot potato two-thirds of the way through, and the entire book devolves into a description of who is sleeping with who. Not at all what I was expecting, and frankly, pretty boring.
The more I sit and think about this book, the more I remember threads that were never resolved. A big one is the socialist who is fighting for decent low-income housing as a side-plot: she convinces several other characters to join in her fight, then accepts living with her boyfriend in a flat paid for (absurdly) by the man who wishes he were her boyfriend. The legislation she mentions in practically every conversation prior to the end is never voted on, as far as we know.
The Essex serpent itself is also heartily disappointing. There's a steady build-up throughout the first half - mysterious deaths, a girl with webbed fingers who seems to channel some of its energy, a dying woman who can hear it talking, copious amounts of fog. Well, all of that remains unexplained, because the "serpent" is really an overturned boat that finally washes to shore. (Normally I wouldn't ruin the ending in a book review, but I really don't recommend wasting your time on this one!) It felt like a ghost story that ends up resolved as a sheet caught in the wind - the kind of story I avoided as a child by searching in the non-fiction section for my ghosts.
Thankfully, I have several other books on deck. I can quickly forget this one, now that I have this rant out of my system. On to happier reading!