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  • Published: 19 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784742560
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $32.99

The Snakes

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.

  • Pub date: 19 March 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784742560
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • RRP: $32.99

About the Author

Sadie Jones

Sadie Jones is a novelist and screenwriter. Her first novel, The Outcast (‘Devastatingly good’, Daily Mail) won the Costa First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. It was also a Richard and Judy Summer Reads number one bestseller and adapted for BBC Television. Her second novel, Small Wars (‘Outstanding’, The Times; ‘One of the best books about the English at war ever’, Joel Morris), was published in 2009, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her third, in 2012, was The Uninvited Guests (‘A shimmering comedy of manners and disturbing commentary on class... a brilliant novel’, Ann Patchett) followed by Fallout in 2014 (‘Intoxicating and immersive’, The Sunday Times).

Also by Sadie Jones

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Praise for The Snakes

“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”


“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

“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

“A menacing, beautifully written novel”

Guardian, *Summer Reads of 2019*

“Jones’s fifth novel is a fantastic read as a thriller, but where Jones excels, is in her microscopic yet compassionate scrutiny of relationships: the unconditional doting of a flawed sibling; the sickening toxicity of a vicious but powerful parent; the watchful care and explosions of irritation between spouses”

Maria Crawford, Financial Times, *Summer Reads of 2019*

“Deliciously wicked... the perfect antidote to a relaxing summer's day... hypnotic -- like staring into the serpent's eyes just before it strikes”

Ron Charles, Washington Post

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