In Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, a rationalist London widow moves to a small seaside village in 1893 and begins investigating Essex Serpent — a creature local legend says plagues the people of the village. She develops a friendship with the bright, theology-minded local preacher, William Ransome, and the two explore the serpent’s myth together — while debating the influences of faith and science on communities.
That’s the basic gist of The Essex Serpent, which has been developed into an Apple TV+ series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston. From the trailer, it looks like the series captures the spirit of the book, which starts out as a monster hunting story before becoming something much harder to define and far more esoteric.
You could do a whole lot worse than this cast. Hiddleston and Danes are well matched as the preacher and paleontologist, respectively, who bond over their shared interest in creeping modernism even as they approach it with vastly different epistemologies. The show will release on Apple TV+ in May, and hopefully keep that streamer’s recent hot streak alive.