Monday, July 04, 2016

Creepy Gothic Thriller Will Leave You Quaking Under Your Covers

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"I worked with wild animals.  I lived at the end of the quietest street in the most remote village I could find.  I made a point of not knowing the names of my neighbors.  I did my shopping by mail order.  What exactly did I have to do to be left alone?" (68)

All Clara Benning wants is for people to leave her be.  Marked by a vicious facial scar, she can do without all the staring, the gossip, and the questions, thank you very much.  The animals she tends at the wildlife hospital don't care what she looks like.  It's with them that the 30-year-old veterinary surgeon prefers to spend her time.  Only they know the truth—beneath Clara's stern aloofness lies a woman who is smart, compassionate, generous, and deeply lonely. 

Clara's precious solitude is shattered by a sudden influx of snakes in the small English village where she lives.  A horrified mother calls Clara when she discovers a coiled reptile in her baby's crib.  When a local man dies from an apparent snakebite, her expertise is called on once again.  She's ready to pass the whole thing off as a random wildlife migration until she learns the dead man was poisoned with more venom than could ever be found in one snake.  His killer is not serpentine at all, but human.  Someone is using innocent snakes to fulfill their own murderous intent.  But who?

Unwillingly pulled into the investigation by a charming neighbor, Clara finds some very disturbing links between the town's current crisis and a century-old local tragedy.  With her quiet hamlet in an uproar and serpents slithering around every corner, even the unflinching Clara is creeped out.  Can she figure out what's going on in time to save her sanity?  What about her own life?

A shivery, gothic tale like AwakeningSharon (S.J.) Bolton's second novel—is probably more suited to Halloween than Independence Day reading.  Still.  If you like eerie thrillers, you can't go wrong with Bolton.  She always delivers.  Awakening is no exception.  The story is tense, exciting, and can't-stop-now compelling.  Clara is a wholly sympathetic heroine, a character for which it's easy to root.  She's complex and contradictory, making her just as intriguing as the mystery she's trying to solve.  I would love to see her as a serial character as I feel like I've only just begun to scratch the surface of what makes her tick.  Story-wise, Awakening delivers twists that are not jaw-dropping but still unexpected.  With interesting characters, a twisty mystery, and a sinister vibe that will have you quaking under your covers, Awakening is another satisfying thriller from a genre master.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Sacrifice by Sharon (S.J.) Bolton)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a dozen or so F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

10 comments:

  1. I'll take your word for it but this one sounds quite weird. Creepy but weird.

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    1. Really? I didn't think it was weird, but it certainly was creepy. Especially for someone who hates snakes (me)!

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  2. Don't you just love S.J. Bolton's books? They always keep me guessing...and turning the pages late into the night. :)

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    1. I really do. She always hits me with SOMETHING that's unexpected! Can't wait for DAISY IN CHAINS.

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  3. That headline is an attention getter! I'm not familiar with this one, but I find myself wanting to search it out at the library. I'm terrified of snakes. Terrified! But, I think I'd enjoy the thrill of this one because of that fear.

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    1. Ha ha. Glad it caught your attention! The snakes definitely up the book's creepy quotient since I hate them, too.

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  4. Just finished Little Black Lies tonight and loved it! Can't wait to read more from Bolton. Saving this one for October.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it! LITTLE BLACK LIES is my favorite Bolton book. The others are just as twisty, but they're also more gruesome/violent/disturbing. Compulsively readable, though!

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  5. Ohh great review! This is actually the first time I heard about this book, even though I am petrified of snakes. I am really intrigued and very curious about the muder mystery aspect of this book. Thank you for your awesome post.

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