> Skip to content

Unflinching in its gaze, The Snakes is a bold, brilliant and beautiful novel which holds the reader in its tense grip from start to unforgettable finish.

'I wonder if it hurts them to shed their skins,’ she said. She didn’t feel afraid standing in the darkness, imagining snakes, even with the smell of death in the air.


Bea and Dan, recently married, 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 rotten core, and even Bea with all her strength and goodness can’t escape.

Reviews

instant modern classic. The Snakes is superbly written, each sentence punctuated by a drumbeat of menace, each word placed with a master's touch. I keep thinking about the questions it poses: about what it is to be good in these imperfect times; about how we can protect our humanity in the face of narcissism and greed. Yet for all its depth and mystery, The Snakes is also just a thrillingly good read

Elizabeth Day

A suspenseful, beautifully written thriller about the corruption of money and abuse within a dysfunctional family

Guardian

An all-encompassing read from the first page to the devastating final paragraph

Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller

I am blowing the trumpet for The Snakes to anyone who'll listen. I devoured the book, awed by its beauty and brilliance. We'll be lucky if 2019 brings us much else of this rank. This is wickedly good writing and something really special. Sadie Jones has talent to burn.

Billy O'Callaghan

Masterful, terrifying, dangerous, with an ending that is as uncompromising as the build-up is truthful. The Snakes is as beautifully written as it is dark and honest.

Rachel Joyce

I was absolutely gripped by this original and beautifully-told story of a couple enmeshed in a nest of vipers -- a rich family of criminals. Its evocation of a sinister French house, the corruption of love and the powerlessness of good is both haunting and chilling. Nobody contemporary writes about unhappy families as well as Sadie Jones.

Amanda Craig

Sadie Jones is such an enjoyable novelist to spend time with. Her books are so easy to read, while each sentence is rich in meaty observation… Elegantly atmospheric… [The Snakes] left me breathless

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

The Snakes is gripping from the outset, then finally unputdownable. The writing is magnificent. One of the most powerful and uncompromising novels I've read in years.

Jonathan Coe

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

Elizabeth Lowry, Guardian

The ending is devastating

Jeffrey Burke, Mail on Sunday

An absolutely stellar beach read, this novel is so chilling it will cool you off better than a gallon of iced tea

Washington Post

This gripping read drips with a menace that builds of the shocking final pages

Joanne Finney, Good Housekeeping, *Book of the Month*

[A] menacing new contemporary thriller… a tantalising set-up, after which the plot zigzags unpredictably to a brutally stark finale that steals the breath

Anthony Cummins, Metro

The Snakes…has all of Jones’s trademark depth and layered storytelling

Sarra Manning, Red

Unsettling, thought-provoking and beautifully written, you won’t be able to get this out of your head

Caroline Robb, Heat

Jones’s style is immediate and lively and she is particularly good at dialogue, which she uses a great deal, often to advance the fast-paced plot

Elisa Seagrave, Literary Review

Sadie Jones… knows how to construct a narrative of great emotional power. Her prose is crisp and precise, studded with spiky observations

Andrew Taylor, Spectator

Jones is a master of creating atmosphere… [and] crafts a pitiless shock ending; a denouement that refuses closure and resonates long after the book is set aside

Suzi Feay, Financial Times

The Snakes unfolds in clean, functional prose and Jones has a lot to say about the way we live now

Johanna Thomas-Corr, Evening Standard

Determined to escape the nine-to-five monotony, Bea and Dan head to France to visit Bea’s wayward brother Alex, who runs a hotel where the only guests are snakes in the attic. The peace is shattered when Bea’s parents arrive, bringingconflict and misery. From a sedate start, Jones deftly builds the tension to a horrific and powerful conclusion.

The Telegraph

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781784742560

    March 19, 2019

    Chatto & Windus

    448 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • Hardback

    9781784742553

    March 7, 2019

    Chatto & Windus

    448 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Extract

1

The night they decided to leave London Bea had a dream. Dreams are like silent films; guns are fired without shots, people talk without voices. This dream was deafening. The noise woke Bea up, shocked breathless, and terrified.

She didn’t think she’d had the dream because they had decided to go away, it was more likely because of what had happened with the Italian leather holdall and the girl with the knife.

Continue Reading

Also by Sadie Jones