You need to read The Snakes, new dark thriller set in Brexit-facing London

Posted by
Anna Brech
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Sadie Jones’ latest novel sees family secrets unravel against the brooding uneasiness of a capital in flux

If you  covet a gripping thriller as much as the next noir-loving woman, put Sadie Jones’ The Snakes on your hit list.

Jones is the author of four best-selling novels, including The Outcast, a brilliant and harrowing tale of young man shunned by a ridged village community in the 1950s. 

Now the author is back in the limelight, with her first stab at fiction set in modern day. 

The Snakes tells the story of a young married couple, Bea and Dan, who escape their small flat in London for a few months to visit Bea’s brother at the hotel he runs in Burgundy, France. 

They find him all alone at the deserted establishment, with nothing but a nest of snakes in the attic. 

When Bea’s wealthy and charming parents arrive on-scene, dark secrets begins to surface, and a sudden tragedy reveals the family’s rotten core.

Sadie Jones, author of new thriller The Snakes

Sadie Jones says The Snakes is a modern-day morality tale about the “rise of evil”

Unlike Girl on a Train and other contemporary thrillers, The Snakes draws its sense of menace not just from characters but also the political landscape of Brexit Britain.

“In many ways, the book is a morality tale and a story about what felt – when I was writing it in 2016 – and still feels like the rise of evil,” Jones tells the Guardian.

“I decided it had to be set today because of this feeling I have of being on a precipice, this feeling that mortal danger is all around us.”

Referring to the book’s partial setting in France, she adds: “I wanted the book to feel post-European, like a goodbye to all that we’re leaving behind. I wanted to put it somewhere that feels like it’s dying.”

A young woman reads a book

The Snakes is another gripping thriller to add to your hit list this year

The story-line of The Snakes also offers a portrait of modern London as a place eroded by millionaire property tycoons and corporate greed.

A Londoner herself, Jones says she feels nostalgic for the days when the capital was “bohemian and cheap enough” for ordinary people to live there: “I do grieve for that. Now it all looks like Mary Poppins: gorgeous buildings everywhere but there are no lights on, and it’s sad.”

Jones stormed onto the literary scene in 2008 with her debut novel The Outcast, later adapted into a BBC drama. A gut-wrenching and beautifully observed story, it showcased the author’s skill for taut, suspense-ridden prose.

If its success is anything to go by, we’d say The Snakes is not one to miss.

Images: Getty


Share this article


Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.