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Bolton, S J - 'Awakening'
Hardback: 400 Pages (Apr. 2009) Publisher: Bantam Press ISBN: 0593059239

S J Bolton's breathtaking novel, AWAKENING, is transfixing. Particularly so if you are afraid of snakes. The detail with which she describes the behaviour and appearance of the snakes is disturbingly detailed and at some points you can smell and hear them in your room with you. Not something to read in bed before going to sleep, unless you want to have nightmares!

I am very impressed with the original idea behind this, S J Bolton's second novel. It strays from the structure of the more conventional detective story and is written in the first person, from the viewpoint of Clara, a gifted young vet whose life has been cruelly hampered by a severe facial injury. She is completely lacking in self-confidence and shuns social contact in order to avoid being stared at. Her knowledge of animals, and reptiles in particular, makes her an unwilling expert when tragedy hits her small village, in the form of a plague of snakes. A series of deaths, caused by the snakes getting into homes and biting people, starts a panic and Clara gets drawn in deeper to find the root cause of the problem. She soon suspects that things are not as they seem and uncovers a sinister secret that somebody is determined, at any cost, to keep that way.

My only slight criticism of this book is that in some places there is too much detail and it tends to detract from the story, instead of adding to it. That aside, I still read it in almost a single sitting and enjoyed it enormously, despite my snake phobia. It has an interesting twist at the end as well, along with a new-found confidence, and possible love interest for Clara.

In a word: superb.

Amanda Gillies, Scotland
August 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 2/08/2009 08:19