The Snakes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

The Snakes by author Sadie Jones starts like literary fiction, the story of a dysfunctional family. Bea and Dan are a young married couple. She's a social worker, he's an artist. She's from a wealthy family but has rejected their money, he's mixed race from a very poor single mother family. Due to expenses, Dan is forced to take a job as an estate agent and is dissatisfied. Bea suggests that they take a vacation in Europe. He reluctantly agrees. She suggests that they stop at her brother's hotel in France. Again, he reluctantly agrees. It becomes clear that her brother, Alex is a bit of a screw up and the hotel has never opened. What's worse, the attic is full of snakes. Dan wants to leave but Bea wants to stay to help her brother especially when she learns that their parents are coming because she knows Alex' secret and she wants to protect him. I can't say that all of this kept me glued to the page but it was definitely interesting and made me want to see where it was going. 

However, half way through it becomes a psychological thriller, the pace picked up significantly and I couldn't put it down.  And then the ending happened. Suddenly, what started out compelling just seemed to go completely off the tracks. It was like the author was trying to tell two different stories and, in the attempt, lost the plot. 

Still, it's well-written and, if you ignore the ending and just read it for it's depiction of how money can hide some very dark secrets, it's worth a read. I'd give most of the book 4 stars and the ending 2 so, overall, it gets 3 stars from me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
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I enjoyed the premise of this book, especially since it's part marriage and family drama, part crime story. However it could have been a lot shorter, and there wasn't enough to keep my attention throughout the entire book. It would have helped for it to move at a faster pace.
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There's a lot of discussion about the end of this book.  I don't really understand why. As readers we may not like it, but it's not our story to tell.  The author wrote about money, family, and secrets.  The money is in the millions, the family is dysfunctional, and the secrets are horrific. As a reader we don't know what the secrets are and I was shocked to find out. The couple in this story are the main characters.  I really liked them. I loved reading their story all the way to the tragic end.  The snakes aren't the villains of this book, the humans are.  Money can't buy happiness, and secrets, they will eat you alive.
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I wasn't actually expecting any real snakes to be featured in this book (regardless of its title). However I was pleasantly surprised to leave that the use of snake in the title wasn't just metaphorical when a few slithering friends showed up. Broken into four parts, The Snakes is a character study that has little plot besides that which everyday life would gives us all; family problems, marriage troubles, insecurity, financial woes, etc. There is nothing particularly special about Sadie Jones novel; and yet I didn't want to put it down! 

All of the characters feel like real-life people. From the remorse, anger, and grief they each feel; through to their actual actions and words to one another we see that each of them is trying to do 'the right thing' in their own way. 
We see a marriage begin to fall apart, a rich family that is in shambles that no amount of money can fix, and our leading lady whom is struggling to be true to herself, loyal to her husband, and bonded with her family.

One thing that Jones does a wonderful job of in The Snakes is talks about motivation for living. The actual act of existing requires some sort of desire. What is your motivation for living? Is it just to live each day and enjoy it? Is it to garner enough money (and when have you achieved 'enough')? Is it to have a certain lifestyle or acquire a certain number of things or even family members (ie: children)? Each of us has some sort of motivation that keeps us going. Jones challenges the reader to determine what their motivation is as she reveals that which drives our individual characters. 
I loved Bea's motivation in the end; to exist. It seems so simple and yet it's probably the most complex of all the characters driving forces. It's also certainly the hardest for those around her to understand. 

Harsh Topics
While this is largely a book in which the emotions and feelings of the characters are most important; those emotions are inspired by some awful events. It's worth noting that themes of rape, child molestation, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence are all seen at some point in The Snakes. It may not be for long, and some are not key plot points for the characters (while others are) but there are a couple pages that I could see many people having trouble reading. In no way are they overly gruesome or any more graphic than necessary to give you the feeling Jones intends. But for those sensitive readers that struggle to have certain events described for them, I would caution you prior to picking this up. 

This is a very emotional book. Not necessarily in that it will make you cry (although it absolutely could!) but that it describes very intense feelings on so many different spectrums and from many viewpoints. At the end of the day The Snakes is all about people and their relationships with others. In particular their relationships with the truth as it relates to others. Near the end of the book it occurred to me that so much would be less messy in the story if our characters were more honest with one another. Especially between the married couples. Jones made me appreciate that I can say almost anything to my own husband and know that he will not jump to conclusions; but will instead try to see my viewpoint (as I will his). That's not to say it's easy; but The Snakes is a good example of how much worse it can be to hide the truth. 
Overall a very well written and compelling contemporary character study. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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All snakes are carnivores.
Snakes swallow their prey whole.  
Snakes sleep with their eyes open.  
Snakes do not hibernate.  Instead they lie dormant biding their time.

Consider yourself warned.  

Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve these creatures have had a bad rap.  But in Sadie Jones's latest foray it is the two-legged variety that one must be wary of.  The Snakes is a slow deliberate novel with little to no characters that warranted empathy.  With power, privilege and moral corruption taking center stage, its plot exposes the underbelly of humanity.  Incisive.  Horrific. Shocking.  The Snakes is surely a novel we'll be talking about for a long time.

Wish granted by Harper Collins Publishers and NetGalley.
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Good book about a dysfunctional family and the secrets that they work so hard to keep hidden.  Newlyweds Dan and Bea visit Bea's brother Alex at his run-down hotel one summer, and Bea's parents visit also.  The plot twist is a good one, and the story is creepy and satisfying.  A good read I would recommend if you like secrets, lies and weird families.
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This book started slow, and for the first chapter or so, I suspected I wouldn’t finish it.  But then I got deeply invested in the characters, and was caught up in the plot for the majority of the book.  Without giving away any spoilers, the ending of the book was a huge disappointment and I felt like the author really let me down.

The “snakes” are actual and metaphorical here.  The actual ones are pretty darn creepy, but the metaphorical ones are worse.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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3 stars

You can read all of my reviews at

Bea and Dan, a young, struggling married couple, leave their tiny London flat behind as they take a 3 month break. They drive through France and visit Bea's troubled brother Alex at a hotel he runs. The couple discover that Alex is alone and the hotel he was supposed to be renovating is in shambles. Alex, a recovering drug addict, is acting strangely, but insists that he is clean. Bea's parents make a surprise visit to Alex's hotel, and Dan can't understand why she hates them so much and wants nothing to do with them, or their millions of dollars and wealthy life style. When a tragedy hits the family, how they cope with the aftermath reveals how deep the family's dysfunction runs.

This book confused me. I couldn't figure out what it was supposed to be. The author delved into issues of racism, wealth and privilege, ethics, morality, family dynamics, and child sexual abuse. And that's just within the immediate family. If that wasn't enough, add a family tragedy and a stilted mystery involving a foreign police department and I couldn't figure out what the book was supposed to be about. It seemed like the author had a lot of "great" ideas that she wanted to write a book about, and rather than parsing them out into several books, decided to mash them all together into one jumbled mess. What made me even more upset was that just as I started to enjoy a part of the book, the author would go off into left field about something completely irrelevant. It was jarring to swing back and forth and made it difficult to enjoy the book. 

If that wasn't enough, the ending - or should I say, the lack thereof - was enough to make me want to throw my ipad across the room. The last few chapters of the book were out of sync with the rest of the book, and then the author just abruptly ended the book. I get wanting to let the reader decide for themselves, but generally there is a better build up to the ending that allows each reader to make their own decision. Here, the book just...ends. WTF? This book gets 3 stars rather than 2 because I did enjoy parts of the book.

I received a free copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was ok until the end. The end was very open ended and didn't have much of a conclusion. However the story was less action / drama than I anticipated.
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I was unable to get interested in this novel or the plot.  Unfortunately I could not continue to read it.

Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this selection.
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A fantasy drama i was unable to put down and finished in one sitting. I highly recommend for any reader of fiction
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This was a story that sucked me in initially. A woman and her husband from the UK to visit her brother in a dilapidated hotel in France and get drawn into intrigue and drama. The family dynamics I found fascinating, a wealthy possibly nefarious father, incestuous mother, and children that have all forged unique paths in life. 

However, about halfway through, I began to lose interest. There were opportunities I saw where the author could have gone there further delving into the character but just left it instead. When Beatrice's husband realizes the scope of her family's finances, he could have become a totally different character entirely, but instead, it was like the author dipped their toe in the idea and then backed off. 
The ending also left me wanting more as well. It ended with a man that was barely mentioned until the last few chapters and left too many questions than answers. His character was wooden and too two-dimensional. It was a bit unrealistic. 

Overall, an intriguing read that could have been much more. 

Thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins for my copy and honest review.
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Talk about a dysfunctional family!  Dan knew Bea's family had money but he really didn't understand how much or how awful that family is until they traveled to France to see her brother Alex and her parents showed up too.  The snakes in this novel are both real and well, metaphorical.  THere's secrets, lies, abuse, a mystery, a really strange group of people and a plot that meanders a but.  Until the end.  Hmm.  No spoilers but your opinion of just about everyone here will change as you progress through the novel.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A good read.
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I liked how the couple's dynamic completely changes from the beginning where they are in love and in accordance about most things, doing small kindnesses to each other and supporting each other through the small hardships of each day and all the small and big cracks that start to appear as soon and they visit Alex
I liked how typically English this novel is from the reference to shops that we all see walking in the street to the language used mostly by Dan.
Dan being mixed race and having had rough beginnings also opens the door to talk about how race is still viewed in modern Britain.
Despite liking the characters and the general them, the book didn't engross me, being too slow. The ending was amazing though.
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I received an advanced digital copy of this book from the author, and HarperCollins Publishing. Thanks to all for the opportunity to read and review.

Ms. Jones has written an amazing tale of family interaction and tension with thought provoking character development that make the pages of the book come alive. All of the people is this book are very real, we've all met them before, but not like this.

Don't be fooled by the title, this isn't a horror novel, but it is emotionally disturbing.

I look forward to reading more of Ms. Jones work.

5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.
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3 for neutral.  I’ve tried on a couple of occasions to get into this book and read it, but it’s just not been for me.  I can’t get more than a few pages and lose interest.  I’m a very moody reader, so I’ll update if able to get into it and enjoy later.  
Will let members of chapter chatter pub know about its upcoming release!
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Well, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where my opinion changed so dramatically from beginning to end as this one.  In the beginning, I couldn’t relate to the characters and I found the plot boring.  I was ready to set it aside.   But I persevered and I’m glad I did.  By the end, I was totally engrossed.  

Bea and Dan, a young couple, recently married, decide to escape their lives and take off for a few months through France. They already seem to be having quite a few problems for newlyweds.  Dan hates his job and Bea is willing to take the trip just to appease him.   Their first stop is a hotel her brother is supposedly running.  

Her brother, Alex, is a cliche - a Peter Pan who’s never grown up, a supposedly recovered addict, living off his parents.   And then the parents, who suddenly show up… well, at least you understand why the children are so screwed up after seeing the parents.  

Bea is the child who turned her back on her parents’ money, her brother didn’t.  And then there’s Dan, who didn’t come from money, who had no concept.   “Before, Bea’s family money had been notational, he could forget it, but seeing them now,  rich was all they were.  Everything they did and everything they said radiated it.”

There was an early twist I didn’t see coming and then the book becomes more of a mystery.  Jones does a good job of projecting that sense of being kept in the dark, dealing with an unknown foreign police and judicial system.  

The book covers prejudice, entitlement, the morality of money, who gets to make the decisions in a marriage.   After not initially liking either Bea or Dan, I appreciated that Jones then made me see both of their points of view.  I could literally sympathize with both.  

The ending was perfect.  Money is the root of all evil.  And I was left wishing I could have seen ow the ending affected the father.  

My thanks to netgalley and HarperCollins for an advance copy of this book.
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"I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins."

Hello friends, and thank you for joining me on what might be the strangest reading journey I've embarked on yet. Usually, if I edit a star rating on one of my reviews, I'm typically knocking it down a peg because, the more I've thought on it, the more I decided I had let the initial high of the book cloud my unbiased judgement. I can't say for sure, but this might be the first time I've actually bumped a review up an entire star after careful thought and consideration. If you've missed the drama, which is likely if you aren't following my Instagram page, let me briefly summarize below.

A week or so ago I read an article via The Guardian with a review of The Snakes that discussed a controversial ending that was causing reviewers to feel widely divided over the entirety of this novel. Naturally, I decided to clear off every other TBR book and pick this up immediately, which is funny due to the fact that I had almost written this one off completely due to the overall low GR average rating. However, if you know me you know that I like to buck the trend and a low average can't keep me away from a book, because the more you tell me not to read it, the more I want to start it right now. I decided to take one for the US team, and to my surprise, it was completely unputdownable. Few books have captured my attention and crawled so deeply into my brain this year as The Snakes did, and even though this novel is the slowest of burns, I couldn't read it fast enough. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about when I could ditch everyone in my house and get back to reading it. AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW that the ending, the very reason why I picked this book up, was the most disappointing aspect for me. 

I gave a little pre-review on my Instagram last night, stating the above facts, and the discussion surrounding this novel blew up! So many readers stated that they had all but written off this book, but now were so intrigued that they were planning on moving it up the TBR just because the suspense was thrilling them! See what I did there? 😏 I'm glad I chose to sit on my full review and process my thoughts on this one a bit longer, because I have not stopped thinking about these characters since finishing the book. This might be a perfect example of placing my expectations in a state too lofty to achieve; I read an article and based my thought pattern in a way that the book doesn't ACTUALLY give an impression of, so that's on me, and the more I think about it, the more I'm ok with the ending. 

So what is this book about do you ask? The Snakes is a slow burning character study of a deeply dysfunctional family who's native tongue is wealth beyond all reason. I cannot emphasize the slow burn part enough; while I know that I flew through it in record time for a meaty 450 page literary crime fiction novel, I can imagine a majority of people going in would picture something a bit more speedy. There is essentially minimal-to-no plot progression here, and very little "action" takes place, but the dark beauty of this story is watching the characters slowly evolve into entirely different people, or perhaps come into the people they have been all along. There are a few literal snakes in this story, but they are minimal and take a backseat to the truly dangerous human snakes featured. 

There is a bit of a mystery here, but I wouldn't commit to reading this book if that's all you're looking for, as the murder mystery really does take back burner to the character study that is provided. There are some really dark themes explored here, and readers should be warned that the narrative includes discussions and scenes featuring pedophilia, incest, child abuse, graphic violence, and much more. I really don't want to dive too much into what else happens, but I have a feeling that this is one of those few books that will remain memorable for years to come. I can only imagine how I'll be a black sheep reader of this one, so don't feel like you have to come at me if you hate this book, because I completely respect your decision and/or your thoughts on the ending, but perhaps this is the type of book that I needed to find to break me out of the dime-a-dozen psychological thrillers that seem to be plaguing the market today. If, like me, you found this book calling your name regardless of the average rating, give it a try! You never know what books may be written just for you.
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Bea and Dan are that most rare of literary couples, they are happily married. And Bea is happy. She's left her family behind and while she and Dan don't have much money, she loves her job as a therapist, their tiny flat and especially she loves Dan. Dan, who went to art school, is far less content with their life. He hasn't been able to create anything in some time as his tedious job as an estate agent means long hours and returning home in the evening drained. He convinces Bea that they should take their small savings, sublet their flat and go travel in Europe for a few months. He has a list of places he wants to see, but first they go to France where Alex, Bea's brother and only family member she cares about, runs a small hotel in the countryside. 

But the hotel isn't what they thought it would be. For one thing, Alex isn't capable of running any sort of business, for another, it's almost entirely unfurnished. And there are apparently vipers in the attic, drawn there by the many mice. And this is where Bea and Dan's solid relationship begins to fray, because when Bea's parents arrive, Bea is tense and withdrawn, overwhelmed with interacting with her dysfunctional family and Dan is startled to discover that when Bea described her family as well-off, what she actually meant was very, very wealthy. And he begins to feel that Bea's peace of mind, the peace of mind she has from refusing to use a penny of that wealth, is paid for with his ability to do his art. When Alex disappears and the French police show up, all the fracture lines are laid bare.

No one writes about the dysfunctional families of the British upper crust quite like Sadie Jones. And this is perhaps her best novel so far. Both Bea and Dan are complex and sympathetic, even when they are in direct conflict. Dan, who was raised in a council flat in a rough part of London, has no defense against the casual luxuries of the wealthy. And Bea, raised in a stifling, love poor environment, treats that wealth with casual familiarity and distain. And those differences of outlook make what is going on with the police and Bea's family more difficult until the entire situation spirals out of control. The writing  is very fine, but what really makes this novel worthwhile are Jones's razor-sharp observations.
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3.5 Stars

I am not a fan of snakes, but love my horror and after catching a glimpse of this cool cover, I was drawn in....and fooled.  So....for those of you who steer clear of traditional horror novels, have no fear here....not really.

There are some snakes though....but mostly a treacherous humanoid variety.  There's a creepy hotel I would not inhabit and a dysfunctional family with filthy rich, disgustingly hurtful parents....who have a horror of a secret.

THE SNAKES is a slow burn and dark tale with much tragedy where money is the root of most, but not all evil.   

***Arc provided by HarperCollins Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for review***
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