Jess Richards' Snake Ropes, book published by Sceptre


Anita Sethi, The Observer

"The ties that bind us together – and those that tear us apart – is the theme threaded throughout this visceral, evocative debut novel."

Stevie Davies, The Independent

"Jess Richards's debut is a cornucopia of secrets and surprises, written in a bright, sassy style. The author is exuberantly inventive in creating a bitter-sweet world of magical transformations."

Sarah Moss, The Guardian

"A lost child's toy speaks, keys have memories, embroidered birds take wing... Richards handles her ambitions with aplomb." Read the full review at

Joanne Harris, Author

"A terrific story, quirky and wildly original"

Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles

"On a distant island, a little boy has gone missing, the first of a series of troubling and mystifying occurences. One of the most distinctive and accomplished debuts of the year, with more than a hint of Angela Carter, particularly in its well-honed language."

Max Porter, Daunt Books

"A brave, dark and unruly book"

"Snake Ropes could be the first great feminist novel of our times with its ranging and unflinching investigation of symbolic and social abjection, marginalisation and taboo. It's a fresh, odd book."


"Strange and dark, whimsical and beguiling, the debut novel by Jess Richards reveals the author's vivid imagination and gift for storytelling. Beautifully paced and written with a distinct voice, Snake Ropes is a story of sisterhood, love and determination that builds to an emotional conclusion."

Pamela Detlor, The Thought Vox

"Snake Ropes is a haunting work of fiction. Jess Richards delivers an original, page-turner, for her debut outing! Secrets are unravelled and lives are forever changed. I LOVED this book!"

Fleur Fisher

"I wanted to linger. To luxuriate in beautiful prose, as light as air, rich with wonderful images, wrapped around so many intriguing ideas. But I also wanted to keep turning the pages, I wanted to keep hearing those two wonderful voices, and I wanted to uncover those secrets... I was caught up, completely and utterly. The stories flowed perfectly. The twist, when it came, was devastating. And the book as whole is quite extraordinary. It illuminates serious themes - pain and healing, the roles women play, the consequences of keeping secrets - so very, very effectively."

Books And Gin

"There's no question that Snake Ropes is a fantastic piece of writing in my mind. I would compare it thematically with the work of Angela Carter, but, I should point out, with the nuances of an extra couple of decades of feminist writing, thought, and literature to give it a boot into the twenty-first century.

Richards has deftly woven huge ethical questions about society, community, sense of place and the tricksy nature of memory and storytelling into a milieu of half-remembered myths and folktales. It's gorgeous and shudderingly uncomfortable at the same time: a remarkable thing."

Beauty And The Book

"Read Snake Ropes to be taken on an unpredictable, rich and enjoyable journey; one that stays with you long after you read the final page."

Amazon Vine (selected reviews)

"Snake Ropes is a stand alone book for me; I've not been so affected by an author ever before; it's an experience I won't soon forget."

"Snake Ropes is one of the most extraordinary books I've read in the last few years, depicting a world which will not be confined to some typed pages but which will suck you in, deposit you on a bleak and distant island and refuse to let you leave."

"Just like the Snake Ropes of the title this tale twists around and around, forming a pattern of events that will hook you in and not let go. To think that this is a debut novel! I can't wait for what Jess Richards has in store for her readers next."

"A mystical book where a harsh self-sufficient lifestyle meets myths, legends and magic... an unusual, haunting debut novel."

"The story is in parts almost dreamlike as it unravels and reveals more in each chapter before reshaping itself and creating a stirring finale. There is magic, folklore, human frailty and strength throughout the book. Absolutely brilliant, I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read anything out of the norm."

"It is rare to come across a tale as rich, and as evocatively written, as Jess Richards' Snake Ropes. The created mythology, the strong female characters and the dynamics of their relationships all call to mind such greats as Margaret Atwood, and the fact that this is a debut novel is, quite simply, astonishing."

"Tap the title into Google, and you see that there's quite some literary buzz around this novel. Having just finished it, I can see why - Jess Richards' first novel is one of the most exciting debuts I've read. Set on a remote, fictional island somewhere out beyond St Kilda, it owes as much to folk and fairy tale as it does to modern speculative and slipstream fiction."

"A masterful debut, I wager that this novel will be unlike any other you've read before. Truly original, at times it appears as if it were the brainchild of a fevered imagination, with dreamlike, almost hallucinogenic, qualities, at others, to be the essence of every dark fairy-tale you know. It is in turns atmospheric, threatening, enigmatic, puzzling, but also filled with love and hope, and extremely memorable. It exerts a grip on the reader that doesn't stop with the closing of the back cover."

Featured Reviews from around the web

Snake Ropes reviewed at Foyles, including a biography of author Jess Richards:

Snake Ropes reviewed on the We Love This Book website:

EXCLUSIVE: Author Jess Richards reveals inspirations and insights into the creative process behind her debut novel Snake Ropes at Book Oxygen:

Important Announcements

Snake Ropes is The Observer's 'paperback of the week' on Sunday, January the 20th. Reviewed by Anita Sethi: "The ties that bind us together – and those that tear us apart – is the theme threaded throughout this visceral, evocative debut novel."

Snake Ropes appears in the Independent alongside other great gift ideas for book lovers. (NB - the paperback retails at £8.99, the price listed is for the hardback.)

Web editor at Foyles, Jonathan Ruppin, looks back at 2012 as 'a memorable year in fiction...' some wonderful titles here, from a man who is passionate about contemporary fiction.

Paperback release date announced
The paperback edition of Snake Ropes will be published by Sceptre on December 13th, 2012.

Snake Ropes nominated for the Costa Book Awards
Snake ropes has been shortlisted for the 2012 Costa First Novel Award! Competing with Jess in the First Novel category will be J W Ironmonger for The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder, Francesca Segal for The Innocents and Benjamin Wood for The Bellwether Revivals.

Jess will be appearing on Friday the 26th of October at Guildford Book Festival. Several authors with a wide range of style and subjects will be taking part. It will be a lively event, where Peter Guttridge will talk briefly to and about all the authors and then open up the floor so the authors and audience can mingle and continue discussions on a one-to-one basis ... while enjoying tea and cake! Along with Jess, the writers at this event will be: Meg Gardiner and Felix Riley, Barbara Mutch and Liam Murray Bell, Jane Rusbridge and Patrick Easter.

Snake Ropes is on the longlist for the Green Carnation Prize, alongside some fantastic titles which celebrate the wealth and diversity of LGBT writing. The shortlist will be announced in November.

At the Edinburgh International Literature Festival, Jess and Sjon discussed islands with Sarah Crown. You can listen to this and other podcasts here:

Sjon's most recent novel, The Whispering Muse, is an intelligent, humorous and enchanting read: a seafaring tale blended with timeless mythology, and a stoic belief in the superior benefits of a diet of fish.

Jess is delighted to be appearing alongside the successful and talented Icelandic author, Sjon, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on August the 13th:

Sjon's latest novel, The Whispering Muse can be bought in good booksellers and you can find more information online via Amazon:

As part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Snake Ropes is included on the Anobii First Book Award list, and you can see the other nominees and place your vote in person at the festival, or online here:

Recommended reading for Summer 2012 - some great books alongside Snake Ropes are on this list:

Jess Richards talks to Radio 4
Jess will be appearing alongside fellow author Michele Roberts, talking to Jenni Murray on Radio 4's Woman's Hour during 10am - 11am on Thursday May 24th.

Jess live on Radio 2
Jess is appearing live on Radio 2's Drivetime from 6pm on Monday 28 May to discuss her debut novel Snake Ropes with Book Club host Simon Mayo. Check out the Radio 2 website for more info:

Jess is shortlisted for round 2 of Rising Stars!
Twelve talented debut authors are hand-picked by Amazon each year, and organised into groups of four. The winner of each round will be chosen based purely on the amount and standard of customer ratings and reviews. An overall winner will be announced at the end of the year. Check out Amazon's Rising Stars page for info on how to get involved:

Jess speaks to Waterstones
In her blog for high street giants Waterstones, Jess is asked to discuss five books which have influenced her. The blog is available exclusively on the Waterstones website:

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