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Surreal & Compelling,
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This review is from: Snake Ropes (Hardcover)This is an excellent debut novel by Jess Richards.
It is narrated by its two main characters Mary & Morgan. The story is set on a remote Island which has never been mapped and it's only visitors are the "Tall Men" who arrive once a month to trade with the Islanders. The other men in the story are almost irrelevant with the Island Women deciding the Islanders fate. Much discussion of which takes place in the weaving room and punishments are dealt out by the Thrashing House.
Boys on the Island are disappearing though and when Mary's young brother disappears she is determined to find him - he is hers after all. Her Mother is dead and her father always fishing so Mary was his sole carer.
Morgan, the other heroine, is trapped in her family home and has been since they fled to the Island from the mainland. She has younger twin sisters who seem strangely sinister, a rather weak father and a mother who is consistently childlike with breakdowns and tantrums. Morgan ends up, like Cinderella, doing all the cooking and cleaning for the household.
The Islanders have many strange beliefs which have been passed down through the generations. Folklore and magic is rife in every aspect of their lives. There is a beautiful contrast between Mary who has been born and bred on the Island and Morgan who was brought there and been kept separate with only a large supply of books to keep her company. The story is full of metaphors and symbols in a primative place that has escaped time. The characters are enthralling and puzzles and twists keep you turning the pages to find out more. The dreamlike quality of this tale is almost like Alice in Wonderland but more believable due to the way of life of the Islands inhabitants. Mary and Morgan are vulnerable and yet very strong characters.
A beautifully written book which is very different from anything I would normally choose but thoroughly recommend.