Audiobooks, ratings, reviews (beta)

The Essex Serpent


Author: Sarah Perry –

Publisher: HarperAudio –

Genre: Fiction, Love Story –

Overall rating: 4/5 –

Writing: 5/5 –

Duration: 14:44 (medium) –

Narrator: Juanita McMahon –

Narrator/performance: 2/5 –

Impressions: 1/5 –

Performance errors: 0/5 –

Complexity/reading level: 3/5 –

Audience: General


The audiobook produces a rather strange experience. The writing is very good and the story engaging. However, the Lector appeared to create an inadequate picture of almost every character and almost every scene. Perhaps this oddity made the story even more outlandish, augmenting the effect already present in the book? For that reason or other, the overall rating I have this book is high, despite the bizarre performance.

I did not enjoy the reading style as it was altogether too artsy and, despite these efforts, still not very coherent. Young women were given voices of old ladies. Children were given voices of adults. There were curious inadequacies in pacing and rhythms of the narration. There were inexplicable differences in tone from scene to scene. There were effects lacking while the next sentence read by the narrator proved that they should have been there. The audiobook seems to have been hastily recorded while at the same time there is a notion that too much work has been put into it.

Despite the confusion, its reason obscure to me, the book was enjoyable. The story is vivid and bold, characters are balanced and remarkable. Nothing is obvious yet nothing appears a trick. The atmosphere builds up to an expectation of the macabre yet what is feared comes in unexpected ways, if at all. The story is also inclusive and representative of neurodivergence. This aspect is important for the entire plot, not an added element. Altogether, there are not many stories that good nowadays, just as there are not many original, melodic tunes. I would recommend the book – though perhaps not this particular audiobook.

The Essex Serpent, Sarah Perry, audiobook cover

The cover is obviously based on the TV series. It creates an odd effect as the book clearly states that both main characters are of the same height while the cover shows otherwise. All in all, it is yet another proof of the confusion. It hints at a messy production process, perhaps tangled in contractual obligations, marketing strategies, deadlines and negotiation bargains.

Cover Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash