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a fan of non-contemporary writing, especially old science fiction

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reviewed Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Melmoth (AudiobookFormat, 2018, HarperCollins B and Blackstone Audio, Harpercollins) 1 star

No plot

1 star

I got eighty-four pages into this book before I gave up. Nothing really happens in this story: the dull main character reads a collection of unnecessarily detailed personal accounts that supposedly all potentially describe encounters with the mythical Melmoth, a woman doomed to wander the Earth alone until the return of Jesus Christ. In between these accounts, we get glimpses of the main character's ascetic life, transcripts of her dull conversations, and descriptions of her fleeting, half-serious pondering on the possible reality of Melmoth.

The writing is not bad, the descriptions are rather good, but flipping ahead shows that the book continues to go nowhere. A friend of the main character disappears early on, abandoning his disabled wife, but who knows when or whether that will be resolved.

The Devil Aspect (Paperback, 2020, Anchor) 3 stars

Psychological Horror, Great Setting, Disappointing Ending

3 stars

This book is set in Czechoslovakia just as Hitler is coming to power. It has a great creepiness factor: a Jungian psychologist with a strange therapeutic technique, an insane asylum in an infamous castle, a surgically proficient serial killer on the loose in Prague, the uncertain shadow of Nazism beginning to peek through daily life, and more.

This book has lots of Czech names and references to local mythology. It made me powerfully curious about the Czech language, culture, and geography.

The main character's treatment on the serial killers imprisoned in the asylum was the most interesting part of the novel; the chase for the killer in Prague was more of a humdrum police procedural, but the implied connection between the two upped the excitement of the latter a bit.

The novel's turning point involved two characters doing something so dangerous and foolish that it seemed unrealistic, and I found …