Snake Ropes - Jess Richards
Why did I read it? The synopsis was so intriguing, and I could not find a single review for it anywhere.Synopsis: In its essentials, boys are going missing from an island community, but, I prefer the following passage to describe this work:Jess Richards' stunning debut will show you crows who become statues and sisters who get tangled in each other's hair, keys that talk and ghosts who demand to be buried. She combines a page-turning narrative and a startlingly original voice with the creation and subversion of myths."No-one here goes to the mainland, and no-one wants to. Our boats aren't strong enough, we dun know the way, them can't understand us, we're fine as we are. We have so many reasons; them stretch as wide as the distance to cross to take us there.". What did I like? Snake Ropes is hard to untangle, like the knots of mussed hair, the root systems found underground, or unkempt sewing threads/knitting yarns in the bottom of a bag. At first, it's hard to follow the rhythm, the language of the inhabitants, and the overall writing style employed in the book, but it just won't let you go, or leave you once you've finished.I struggled with the opening pages, as the setting felt so familiar, but I could not pin it down. Not surprising, given the island is off the edge of the map. Jess Richards has created a place with it's own dialect, history, folklore and myths so unique, but with such familiarity it's hard to get your bearings - at first. I felt very confused for quite a while, even when the second chapter gave voice to another of the main characters, with a more familiar style of speech. At times, reading Snake Ropes felt like reading someone's incoherent thoughts: someone in a fever; someone dreaming; someone a little off-kilter perhaps. At other points, there are beautiful little fairytales, folklore or myth, and throughout runs the mystery of stolen boys.I have been reading for 38 years now, though my range in materials has not the broadest, nor is it the narrowest, and I've not read all the greats, but I have never encountered a style like that of Jess Richards before; it is entirely unique to me. I am now somewhat fearful of Jess Richards' writing, because from those jumbles, tangles and twists of words on the page, a magic wafted up, wove around me and bound me to that island, it's inhabitants and visitors, and I was not released until the conclusion, and this despite feeling lost, confused, and very uncomfortable, almost unhappy at the start. That takes skill. It's an art, too. Snake Ropes is a stand alone book for me; I've not been so penetrated by an author before; it's an experience I won't soon forget. For me, Jess Richards is a masterful writer.What didn't I like? Snake Ropes loses half a star only because I remember being so damned uncomfortable with everything in, or about the book through the first chapter, and halfway into the second; it just took a little long to get with the programme. It was an uneasy feeling I won't soon forget, though I later willingly forgave.Would I recommend it?. I highly recommend it; even if just to experience the voice of a (to me) very unique, new author.Rating: 4½/5.