Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Reptile Memoirs

by Silje Ulstein Translated from Norwegian by Alison McCullough

A bestselling Norwegian debut already sold in thirteen territories, Reptile Memoirs is a brilliantly twisty and unusual literary thriller for fans of Gillian Flynn, Jo Nesbø, Kate Atkinson, and Tana French, asking the question: Can you ever really shed your skin?

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 464
  • Publication Date March 21, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6235-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 400
  • Publication Date March 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5886-4
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $27.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Publication Date March 15, 2022
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-5887-1
  • US List Price $27.00

Liv has a lot of secrets. For her, home is the picturesque town of Ålesund, perched on a fjord in western Norway. One night, in the early-morning embers of a great party in the basement apartment she shares with two friends, Liv is watching TV, high on weed, and sees a python on an Australian nature show. She becomes obsessed with the idea of buying a snake as a pet. Soon Nero, the baby Burmese python, becomes the apartment’s fourth roommate. As Liv bonds with Nero, she feels extremely protective, like a caring mother, and 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, who angers her mother by asking for a magazine one too many times. Mariam storms off, leaving Iben in the shop and, expecting her young daughter to find her own way home, heads off on a long calming drive. When she returns home in the evening, her husband is relieved to see her but terrified that Iben isn’t also there. Detective Roe Olsvik is assigned to the case of Iben’s disappearance; he has just turned sixty and is new to the Kristiansund police department. 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, and the struggle to mend broken lives and families.

Praise for Reptile Memoirs:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense)

“Part fairy tale, part psychological thriller, this tale follows a missing child, a damaged young woman with a pet Burmese python and other inhabitants of a Norwegian coastal town.”—New York Times, “Globetrotting”

“The serpentine plot of this astonishing debut gradually tightens its grip and leaves you gasping . . . The narrative twists will make your jaw drop; the sections told from the point of view of Nero, whose prey becomes larger and larger, make you gag. Silje Ulstein is a daringly original writer.”—Times (UK)

“A dark, visceral novel of shame, trauma and secrets, told in two distinct timelines . . . Disturbing, thought-provoking . . . Enigmatic and intricate, this first novel will chill even the most hardened of Scandinavian noir fans with its considerations of human nature, self-determination and animal instinct.”—Shelf Awareness

Reptile Memoirs is the perfect novel for those who like their mysteries and thrillers delivered in a manner that is a bit left of center but still contains all the crucial elements you would expect from a classic noir investigation story. Silje Ulstein is a talented author, and I am excited to see what she has in store for readers next.”—Book Reporter

“Powerful . . . A complex thriller with at least two crimes and many possible solutions.”—Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

“Everyone seems guilty in this well-written, pitch-black psychological thriller, whose tense, lost-child theme conjures twisted fairytale tropes.”—Booklist

“Original, sharp, tender and chilling, Reptile Memoirs is hugely ambitious and hypnotically readable.”—Chris Whitaker, New York Times-bestselling author of We Begin at the End

Reptile Memoirs is a magnetic ocean tide: a bold, heart-stopping and genre-defying debut which compels us to sink toward the darkest depths of our past. A masterfully shocking and at times wonderfully uncomfortable exploration of obsession, desire and rejection, sexuality and taboo, Ulstein leaves us breathless in her quest to examine which version of the self is capable of love and violence.”—Sarah Schmidt, author of See What I Have Done

“This book is a shapeshifting marvel. I found it compulsively readable, and not just for the unexpected paths by which it unpacks its secrets. Silje Ulstein writes about snakes in ways that made me feel I’ve never really seen them before: In language that is as seductive as it is prickly, she pries open the boundaries between reptiles and humans, adults and the children they once were, and criminals and victims. An uncanny, unsettling, and totally immersive read.”—Emily Fridlund, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of History of Wolves

“Extraordinary and terrifying, Reptile Memoirs sinks teeth into you from page one. Through relentless and, at times, almost unbearable tension, Ulstein delivers a menacingly layered thriller unlike any you’ve read before.”—P. J. Vernon, author of Bath Haus

“A beautifully dark and twisty story with jaw-dropping twists and pin-point plotting.”—Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

“A beautifully dark and twisty story with jaw-dropping twists and pin-point plotting.”—Joanna Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

“Neither Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), nor Paula Hawkins (Girl on the Train), nor Alex Michaelides (The Silent Patient)—to name some well-known examples from the last decade—can measure up to Ulstein . . . This debut is a great discovery . . . A thriller that really stands out.”—Aftenposten (Norway)

“Ulstein has written the best and creepiest Norwegian crime debut in years . . . A novel that stands out due to both its dark, clever and intricate plot as well as the author’s solid insight in the human mind . . . Reptile Memoirs can also be seen as a bildungsroman.”—Adresseavisen (Norway)

“A nerve-wrecking and highly original psychological thriller . . . The book is very hard to put down and if you do the plot will keep playing out in your mind.”Dagbladet (Norway)

“The narrative has an enormous drive, with surprises in every paragraph. Perfect late summer-entertainment.”—Vi Lâser (“Five Best Books of the Summer”) (Sweden)

“It’s dark, exciting, and nothing like you are made to think. In other words, a really good thriller.”—Aftonbladet (Sweden)

“With considerable virtuosity she builds a plot that teases the readers’ suspicions, based on what they’ve read, but at the same time catches them by surprise . . . A story that will both terrify and cast a spell over the reader.”—Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)

“Generous, gifted, complex and stumblingly close to perfection.”—Berlingske (Denmark)