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Melmoth by Sarah PerryWith its echoes of Mary Shelley and menacing creature in Frankenstein, Melmoth reads deliciously like an 18th-century Gothic novel. Mysterious pages describe a legendary shrouded figure--Melmoth the Wanderer--who watches those who have sins and secrets to hide.

Propulsive, eerie, heartrending, and hopeful, Sarah Perry's worthy successor to The Essex Serpent bring a chill of recognition to each of us who has acted badly and peered over our shoulder to see if someone was watching.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry ($27.99*, Custom House), recommended by Malaprop's Books and Cafe, Asheville, NC.