Over Christmas I was indulged with a few titles from my reading wish list and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry was the first to be finished. No. 5 of the Top 10 Folk Tales in Fiction Guardian article The Essex Serpent was a curious read. Illuminating about the period in which it was set and quite tense in places as the folklore of the Essex serpent grips the community in different ways. It is not fantasy fiction and but I would happily recommend it.
"London, 1893. When Cora Seaborne's controlling husband dies, she steps into her new life as a widow with as much relief as sadness. Along with her son Francis - a curious, obsessive boy - she leaves town for Essex, in the hope that fresh air and open space will provide refuge. On arrival, rumours reach them that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming lives, has returned to the coastal parish of Aldwinter. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist with no patience for superstition, is enthralled, convinced that what the local people think is a magical beast may be a yet-undiscovered species. As she sets out on its trail, she is introduced to William Ransome, Aldwinter's vicar, who is also deeply suspicious of the rumours, but thinks they are a distraction from true faith. As he tries to calm his parishioners, Will and Cora strike up an intense relationship, and although they agree on absolutely nothing, they find themselves at once drawn together and torn apart, affecting each other in ways that surprise them both. The Essex Serpent is a celebration of love, and the many different shapes it can take." Book Description from the Guardian Book Shop
I really enjoyed Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I read this through some of the hottest days in January when activity seemed impossible. A really gripping end of the world science fiction.
A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable." -Goodreads