Lead Review

  • Book: Reptile Memoirs
  • Location: Ålesund, Kristiansund
  • Author: Alison McCullough (Translator), Silje O Ulstein

Review Author: Tina Hartas



This is clearly not a novel for anyone who has ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), as a python called Nero features central stage and even has a voice. He is also given live tidbits to eat, which for me was a right turn off.

There are a couple of stories going on here, one in the early 2000s and forward to 2017, when a woman loses her 11 year old daughter in a shopping centre in Kristiansund and then goes on a jaunt for several hours, assuming her daughter will have made her own way home. Of course she hasn’t and the police immediately latch on to the vital hours when the alarm should have been raised.

Back in the early 2000s Nero has found a place in a flat share in Ålesund, locked in his room (because apparently snakes can lift the lids sometimes on their terrariums) and there are plenty of descriptions of him slithering around and his owner – Liv – having to hunt him down in her room.

Because of the different characters and time periods, it is a novel that needs concentration. There is also a lot of darkness and depravity, with a host of damaged people, and that can all feel a little relentless, though I am sure given the unusual construct, will have broad appeal.

It is well written and it is a great translation by Alison McCullogh, and the link between the stories does come to a fruitful conclusion. Objectively I understand that this is a good novel, but it just fell off the weird scale for my personal reading preferences.




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