This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend.
The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and war creeps in. He sees Mary and her family leave their home, he sees her grow up and he sees her fall in love. But Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, when his destiny will break them apart, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will lose them.
From one of Britain’s most gifted and celebrated writers, The Little Snake is a magical and deeply moving fable about the journey we all take through life, about love and family, about war and resilience, about how we live in this world, and how we leave it.
If you’ve ever read ‘The Little Prince’ then you may recall that in this child’s story there is a rose, a fox, a pilot, and yes, even a snake.
The Little Prince is a favoured book in our home, the three of us all have our own copies. It’s a story that has stayed with me since reading it my senior year of high school in our English class. It’s a children’s book by most definitions but there is wisdom in children’s stories, and that is what Kennedy similarly provides in ‘The Little Snake.’
This was a novella much like some of the source of its inspiration [‘The Little Prince’] and it was written to just simply be enjoyed.
Lanmo the snake has a heavy task, it is his job to bring those to death whose time has come, of course, he’s noticed a lot of times humans do his job for him. This is not always appreciated but it is at least quietly observed by the clever golden snake.
One day though he crosses paths with Mary and for the first time he is intrigued by a human and finds himself daring to indulge in a friendship. Mary’s friendship with him colors in his world in a way, he’s no longer just a silent observer who works through the night, he has feelings and opinions on the people he meets and he carries the knowledge that someday when he sees Mary it will be for the last time, and it will be his job.
Still, Mary shows him the wonderful side of humans, curiosity, kindness, and love.
There are vast breaks between when Lanmo and Mary see each other and she grows up more every time he’s away and her city morphs and changes as well.
Your City is too sad now. Your kites hardly fly. Can’t you see everything has changed?”
Poignant, beautiful, and it had much the same effect that ‘The Little Prince’ had on me all those years ago. This is a book for those who won’t mind a journey that shows friendship and love and loss.
If you enjoyed ‘The Little Prince’ or others like it then you’ll really enjoy ‘The Little Snake’ as well. It is a beautiful tale written with an equally beautiful writing style. I would say Kennedy is set to be one of our more prominent literary fiction voices when people look back upon us in history. That being said, this book is great all on its own without being compared to ‘The Little Prince.’ Kennedy has taken an idea and made it all her own, and when reading it the only reason I drew parallels between the two at all was simply for the whimsical and flowing feel of both stories.
‘The Little Snake’ is a treasure on its own, no comparisons needed.
It’s not a long book but it’s a journey written to make you think and to make you feel. I adored Lanmo and Mary and their story, definitely five cups of coffee from me.
**Thanks to Katie from Canongate Books for sending me this copy, I’ve given an honest review in exchange**
And what happened next I cannot tell you. No one can make me.”