Skip to main content

Awakening by S.J. Bolton


It's official: I'm now a hardcore S.J. Bolton fan after reading her second novel, Awakening. It may not be as terrifying as her first, Sacrifice, but what it lacks in terrifying, it makes up for in creepiness--literally and figuratively. It is equally as hard to put down; when I was away from it, I was seriously wishing I was home reading it. I have her third novel at home waiting for me after I finish John Connolly's latest Charlie Parker installment (another equally gripping read). The only disheartening thing is that after Blood Harvest, Bolton's next book, I'll have to wait, impatiently, for her fourth release.

Like Bolton's first book the setting plays an important role in the fabric of the story; it is set in a tiny village in Dorset County, England, which has seen its snake population increase seemingly exponentially and inexplicably.

Clara's a wildlife veterinarian and a near recluse who seeks the quiet solitude of an extremely low key and low profile lifestyle in response to a lifetime of taunts, harassment, and bullying due to a facial disfigurement incurred as an infant. Her physical disfigurement is the result of a horrifying, harrowing, and sickening childhood accident that left her not just physically scarred but also emotionally scarred and damaged as well.

Clara sought out her tiny village in hopes of leading a nearly invisible, solitary life, but five years on, the snake population in the surrounding countryside explodes in scores of mostly harmless grass snakes that turn up unexpectedly in various village homes. However, among the swarms of grass snakes appear a handful of dangerous and poisonous adder snakes and one very deadly taipan snake, native to tropical climes not found in Britain. Thus, it's made clear the appearance of the snakes in village houses are deliberate incidents set in motion by a shadowy, unknown individual with murky motives.

Unwillingly drawn into the mystery, and before long forced to dig for information to clear herself, Clara does some research into the village's past and uncovers a mysterious church fire in 1958 that resulted in the deaths of several individuals and the exodus from the village of a pair of brothers belonging to the Witcher family. The more Clara uncovers the more she is convinced that the Witcher family holds the key to the bewildering past and current events happening in the village. Before long the deaths of elderly individuals with connections to the 1958 fire land Clara in hot water with the local police. When she becomes their main suspect, it's obvious in the interrogation room that the local detectives are convinced she's the murderer largely due to her physical disfigurement; before long the interrogation devolves into a cruel series of taunts from the detectives in one of the most harrowing, tensest, cruelest scenes of the entire book.

This second Bolton book is as much about the mystery of the snakes and the murders as it is about a growing experience for Clara, who will emerge from her self imposed recluse lifestyle by the end of the book. Suspenseful and hard to put down, this book quickly turns into a frantic, fast read.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at http://www.tanafrench.com/) does not offer any insi…