* Minor spoilers ahead*
Melmoth had been beautifully written, with each description being crafted in a masterly fashion and each character stitched so carefully. The narration was immersive and atmospheric, with the feeling of being huddled around a fire on a cold winter’s night whilst someone told the story. The writing encapsulated and weaved in darkness and despair which came together to construct a powerfully haunting tale. Yet it must be said, that after a while, despite the descriptions creating an eerily atmospheric setting, the breaking of the fourth wall got a little frustrating after a certain point and broke the hypnotic spell of the book.
The novel is complied of nestled stories-within-stories, gradually revealing Helen’s own story and the intricacies behind her own character. By no means was Helen a likable character but that doesn’t say that she wasn’t an interesting one. At a first glance, Helen is rather bland but it is soon realized that this is self-inflicted; Helen has essentially put herself in limbo as punishment for her sins. The book also flags up the question of what was Helen’s sin – was it simply helping a suffering person to die (can this be contemplated as murder?) or silently watching as her lover took the fall for her crime? Personally speaking, I am in the view of the latter; Helen’s initial guilt would have been somewhat assuaged had she herself owned up for her crime rather than letting an innocent take the blame.
Melmoth herself was a character of intrigue. A haunting figure condemned to roaming the world witnessing the despair and cruelty created by humanity. Despite Melmoth being the manifestation of darkness, despair and profound guilt, she also offers hope and comfort in a sense. Time and time again, characters are compelled towards her.
“I wonder, when God permitted us to fall, if He knew we’d fall so far.”
Each voice was distinctive within the different stories and was filled with emotion, bringing to light the impact of our choices, sins and unspoken truths. The story that perhaps had the biggest impact overall was Nameless’ story. His story encapsulated a whole variety of different emotions from pure anger to utter disbelief to a sense of emptiness. The ending itself to that particular tale was simply incredible. However, although the stories were linked in a sense, at points it did feel slightly disjointed when continually going back and forth. Perhaps the focus should have been more on Helen – a deeper psychological insight of her descent in to madness would have been welcome.
Overall, Melmoth was a beautifully written book that took readers on a journey through time and varying landscapes. The characterization was exceptional and the whole book itself was outstanding with a couple of small flaws.
P.S. I sent my hearing aids in for repair about a month ago. I’ve heard nothing since 🙂