We Asked Readers:
What was the best book you read in 2018, and why?
Here’s how they responded.
My favorite book of 2018 was Melmoth by Sarah Perry. On its surface, this book is about the narrator’s encounter with a supernatural specter—an immortal witch known as Melmoth, or the witness, who observes people’s worst deeds and then stalks them with the intention of convincing them to follow her on her doomed and lonely quest to traverse the Earth for eternity. However, the brilliance of this book is that it is actually so much more than a horror story.
The storytelling of the book is so effective in that it expertly builds suspense by alluding to events without actually revealing them until the moment is right. This pulls readers in, as the characters are slowly and exquisitely crafted so that the reader connects with them, feeling what they go through while also marveling at their experiences. Further, the novel deals with intense and heavy themes such as guilt, morality, purpose, forgiveness, and courage. It explores the motives and actions of individuals, all the while delving into their thought processes and feelings during monumental life events. In this way, it is a story about humanity. It asks us to look at others, both likable and wretched, through the lens of their past. It asks us to consider not just who the person is, but how they came out on the other side of traumatic experiences. And, finally, it describes painful moments in history while keeping a personal and heartfelt touch.