July 16th is World Snake Day! Although fear of snakes is one of the leading phobias in the world, snakes are meaningful creatures with cultural and spiritual significance. In celebration of this day, read these books that incorporate these slithering, reptiles into their stories!
Sarah Perry’s award-winning novel, The Essex Serpent, jumps between myth and modernity as it narrates Cora Seabornes’s adventures in the 19th century. Cora journeys between Essex and London as she searches for the Essex Serpent. With rapid scientific advancement causing society to favor reason and fact, Cora’s mission challenges those around her to have faith in the unknown. Perry’s novel explores the limits of love and friendship and the complexity of deep desires and strong fears.
In A.L. Kennedy’s fantasy novel The Little Snake, Mary meets a shining gold snake named Lanmo, who quickly becomes her best friend. As Mary grows up, Lanmo continues to visit her and witness firsthand her journey through life. Lanmo enjoys seeing Mary move out and fall in love, but he is pained by the knowledge that one day he will no longer be able to visit her. Kennedy tells a beautiful story that embodies the happiness and pain we all feel as we experience life, friendship, and love.
The Snakes, Sadie Jones’s thrilling suspenseful novel, tells the story of the Adamsons, a dysfunctional English family overcome by a tense and violent dynamic. Bea, the daughter of the family who is newly married to Dan, is confused and suspicious when her brother Alex dies without explanation. Bea has always refused to take any money from her wealthy father, as she does not trust him. Dark family secrets begin to emerge and reflect poorly upon nearly every family member throughout the book. Set in rural France, The Snakes delivers a devastating portrayal of the consequences of greed and the divisiveness of family secrets.
Catherine Austen’s young adult novel Walking Backward follows the life of Josh, a 12-year-old who is grieving the passing of his mother. Josh’s mother passed away as a result of a car crash caused by a snake being in the car, which raises one major question in their family: how did the snake even get in the car? Josh, along with his father and younger brother, all struggle to come to terms with his mother’s death. Isolated by grief and without any faith to guide him through his loneliness and uncertainty, Josh feels lost. Through a series of journal entries, Josh embarks on a spiritual journey in which he investigates and tests the ideas and practices of different religions concerning death.
Darcie Little Badger utilizes traditional Lipan Apache storytelling to frame her narrative in her fantasy novel A Snake Falls to Earth. Nina, a Lipan girl living in the modern, real world, feels that there is much more out there than we think. Entranced by old stories with monsters and magic, Nina is a believer in all kinds of other-worldly beings and places. A catastrophic event results in the introduction of Nina to Oli. Oli is a cottonmouth kid from the land of spirits and monsters. Nina and Oli have more in common than they think, as they both work together to find their identities and a place for themselves in this world.
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