BOOK TOUR: Reptile Memoirs by Silje Ulstein

“Can you ever really shed your skin?”

Set to be released on 17th March, Reptile Memoirs by Silje Ulstein follows trainee nurse Liv who has a lot of secrets. Late one night, in the aftermath of a party in the apartment she shares with two friends in Ålesund, she sees a python on a TV nature show and becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, a baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment’s fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she is struck by a desire that surprises her with its intensity. Finally she is safe.

Thirteen years later, in the nearby town of Kristiansund, Mariam Lind goes on a shopping trip with her eleven-year-old daughter, Iben. Following an argument Mariam storms off, expecting her young daughter to make her own way home… but she never does. Detective Roe Olsvik, new to the Kristiansund police department, is assigned to the case of Iben’s disappearance. As he interrogates Mariam, he instantly suspects her – but there is much more to this case and these characters than their outer appearances would suggest.

Rating:

Today is my stop on the TLC Book Tours for this book. Thank you to the publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The cover promises a cold-blooded thriller, and that’s exactly what you get. Deliciously dark and impressively distinctive, Reptile Memoirs is a spine-tingling thriller with an unusual and intriguing concept and bleak atmosphere.

Set over two timelines and told through five characters, the story takes a little while to come together. I was worried that it was all going to go over my head at first as I couldn’t see how the timelines were going to be connected. But it still had me gripped, as I cautiously turned every page, not knowing what to expect next.

The question of “Can you ever really shed your skin?” is such a brilliant one to pose. Just asking it puts the darkest thoughts in your mind, and this book certainly goes there. There are a fair few trigger warnings to be careful of as certain scenes made me gasp out loud. But if you enjoy a thriller that steps over the boundaries, this is definitely a book worth checking out.

The best way for me to describe it is to say that it’s like The Last House On Needless Street (with its own animal narrator) combined with a Scandi Noir mystery. So if you enjoy either of those, you’re sure to enjoy being trapped in the coils of this one.

I also have to say that the translator, Alison McCullough, has done a fantastic job. I sometimes struggle with translated books as I find that they can sometimes lack the details, but I constantly got goosebumps from the unnerving atmosphere that Ulstein conjures up, so McCullough has done brilliantly to translate the chilling tone so well.

Details:

Reptile Memoirs by Silje Ulstein
Hardback Release Date: 17th March 2022
Print Length: 437 pages
Genre: Dark Norweigan Thriller
Publisher: Grove Press UK

Synopsis:

Liv has a lot of secrets. Late one night, in the aftermath of a party in the apartment she shares with two friends in Ålesund, she sees a python on a TV nature show and becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, a baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment’s fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she is struck by a desire that surprises her with its intensity. Finally she is safe.

Thirteen years later, in the nearby town of Kristiansund, Mariam Lind goes on a shopping trip with her eleven-year-old daughter, Iben. Following an argument Mariam storms off, expecting her young daughter to make her own way home . . . but she never does. Detective Roe Olsvik, new to the Kristiansund police department, is assigned to the case of Iben’s disappearance. As he interrogates Mariam, he instantly suspects her – but there is much more to this case and these characters than their outer appearances would suggest.

A biting and constantly shifting tale of family secrets, rebirth and the legacy of trauma, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliant exploration of the cold-bloodedness of humanity.

About The Author:

Silje Ulstein has a masters degree in Literature from the University of Oslo and studied creative writing at the Bergen Writing Academy. Her debut novel Reptile Memoirs was a bestseller in Norway. She lives in Oslo.

Alison McCullough is a Norwegian to English translator and writer. She was awarded a National Centre for Writing Emerging Translator Mentorship in 2017. She lives in Stavanger, Norway.

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