Snakes and Ladders (Orm och stege)

Maria Ernestam


Rights sold


Sweden: LB Förlag


And there it was again, the image of a wounded body on the shore with seagulls screaming around its head. What happened on that island? Did I even want to know?

A group of young people meet every summer in Vallerås. Since childhood they have been welded together in a friendship they believe is invincible.

But the summer of 1978 is different. The local congregation engages a new pastor who enchants them, and the atmosphere deteriorates, things are kept secret and old injustices resurface. It all culminates in a tragedy out by the sea.

Forty years later another person in the old gang dies. He leaves behind a wish to be buried in Vallerås and the friends from back then gather again. But their meeting is tense and Ingrid, who never forgot what she experienced that summer, stays in order to reinvestigate the past. Was it all an accident? Why did their friendship end? Who lied to whom? And were they alone on the island that night?

Snakes and Ladders is a thriller exploring how far we are capable of going in order to protect the ones we love.


348 Pages



"Just like that our youth and our lives are devastated – by forces we do not understand. A brilliant novel!"

-Håkan Nesser, internationally acclaimed Swedish author


"Immersing, unpredictable and captivating. It is a joy to enjoy Ernestam's unique language and storytelling." - Agneta Norrgård


"The mood is claustrophobic and the contrast between the November darkness in present time and the playful days of summer in their youth is powerful." -enligto , book blog


"The author shows how relations, places, experiences and existential brooding in youth shape us and can return, with force, later in life. The language is beautiful and poetic without losing drive because of it. The magic of the friends’ summers and their strong fellowship is finely portrayed …" - BTJ library services no 16/22