On the surface, it seems benign, even banal: a young couple on the verge of burning out decide to take a few months off work to travel. But their unexpected brush with violence in the first scene sets the tone for the rest of the book. After, the story proceeds uneasily, slithering towards a fixed point of shocking brutality. There is a discomfiting feeling of inevitability to it all, as though it never could have ended any other way. I've read Sadie Jones's other books and this feels like a bit of a departure, but a welcome one — this level of relentless darkness is her métier. The Snakes is a nightmare of original sin, a haunting portrait of the rot that can fester under the cover of privilege, and it got under my skin in the best way possible. Recommended By Lauren P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A chilling page-turner and impossible to put down, The Snakes is Sadie Jones at her best: breathtakingly powerful, brilliantly incisive, and utterly devastating.
Recently married, psychologist Bea and Dan, a mixed-race artist, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea's dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.
When Alex and Bea's parents make a surprise visit, Dan can't understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she's never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea's ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she's been keeping.
Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its heart, and then its rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can't escape.
"A provocative and astute writer…The Snakes asks serious questions about human nature, avarice and justice, wrapped in the fast-paced rhythms of a thriller. It is written with Jones’s trademark economy and a fierce attention to the nuances of familial cruelty…I finished The Snakes with a juddering heart, strangely close to tears." The Guardian
"The Snakes is many things — a parable and an ancient drama where a father's greed devours his children, a police procedural, an avid take on tabloid venality, and a bitter comedy, superbly observed, where behind a woman's eyes she is 'all movement inside herself, like a wasp in a glass.' I admit that I'm still shaken by parts of this novel. Sadie Jones writes with pitiless aplomb and corrosive intelligence." Louise Erdrich
About the Author
Sadie Jones is the author of four novels, including The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in Great Britain and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize/Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, Small Wars, and the bestselling The Uninvited Guests. She lives in London.