3 on a theme: snakes (and songbirds)

It’s always so amazing to me when I read several books in a row with a similar element. Recently, I read three books that all involved snakes! One of these was pretty obvious, being part of the title and all.

Two of these involved snakes in the context of Southern Christian “snake handling.” Boys of Alabama by Genevieve Hudson had as a subplot a cult-like group of Christians who take in a German atheist. There is a legend about the head of this group, that he was bitten by a snake and came back to life, and how initiation into this cult involved others willingly allowing themselves to be bitten to experience being saved by God. In Speak No Evil by Liana Gardner, a girl raised in a church where snake handling was performed becomes orphaned after her mother is bitten. Later, her uncle locks her in a room with snakes as a punishment.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is a prequel to The Hunger Games, where one of the early tributes has a penchant for snakes and poisons. After a stunt during the Reaping where she drops a snake down another girl’s dress, Lucy later escapes death by a mutated snake’s bite (there are other things at play here, but Lucy sings to the snakes to calm them).

Lucy is a performer, a singer by trade, the “songbird” of the title. In Speak No Evil, the main character, Melody, is also a singer, and she’s also able to calm snakes with her singing. While there isn’t a similar singer in Boys of Alabama, there is a bird (more than one bird, actually) that the main character brings back to life.

I read all of these books back to back, and I have to say I kept getting confused, especially with the first two, about what happened in which story!

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