My sister is a formwanderer: she is a mirror of want. Each person she meets sees what they want, when they look at her. And she changes for each pair of eyes.
Two sisters, fleeing the city of Paradon, find their way to a village by the sea, where Old Kelp's cottage - and her recipe book - await them.
Amber feels this is where she finally belongs, baking honey cakes each night for the villagers to collect in the morning, using a set of bone spoons that allow her to add truth, lust and confusion to her pies and puddings.
Her little sister Maya is a 'formwanderer', engineered to reflect the wants of others. All her life she has been like a twin to Amber; but now Amber wants Maya to learn how to be herself.
Kip, a child growing up amongst the songs and stories of the village, delivers Amber's ingredients. When an act of terrible violence stirs and sets free the secrets of a generation, only one of these three can reveal the truth...
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. - Independent on Snake Ropes
A terrific story, quirky and wildly original. - Joanne Harris on Snake Ropes
Richards handles her ambitions with aplomb. Snake Ropes is partly an extended meditation on trauma and healing, and the trauma is handled so well that the reader is exactly as upset as she needs to be to follow through... Snake Ropes reminds us that the act of storytelling is in itself a form of resolution. - Guardian on Snake Ropes
Richards skilfully alternates between Mary and Morgan and their stories, touching on themes such as the transmission of folk wisdom, the creation of myths and violence against women. - Financial Times on Snake Ropes
From the islanders' subtle Creole to their myths of sea and sky and earth, Jess Richards has nurtured a remarkable community, their home glimpsed in the sea-mist like a new Avalon. Angela Carter or Laura Esquivel would have been proud of this. - We Love This Book on Snake Ropes
A mystical book where a harsh self-sufficient lifestyle meets myths, legends and magic . . . an unusual, haunting debut novel. - thebookbag.co.uk on Snake Ropes
Jess Richards was born in Wales in 1972, and grew up too fast in south west Scotland where she lived with her English parents and three brothers, watching the ferry boats going to and from Northern Ireland. She left home at 17, went over the border to England, and lived for a year in Carlisle, before moving to Devon. She gained a first class degree from Dartington College of Arts when she was 21. After brief stints busking and carrying on in both Leeds and London, she moved to Brighton aged 23 where she has grown up a bit slower, and has lived and worked ever since. Her debut novel, SNAKE ROPES, was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa First Novel Award and longlisted for the Green Carnation Prize.