Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Awakening by S. J. Bolton

Bernadette's review (see below) reminded me that I read this book last year but didn't review it, a lack of action that fills me with guilt since the author was kind enough to send me an inscribed copy after I correctly answered a quiz on her web site. I'm prone to slumps in writing especially when I can't figure out where to start but that's no excuse.

In partial atonement, let me start by saying that I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a crime/mystery/gothic thriller. Please read the four excellent reviews to which I have linked below and I hope will steer you toward this author and this book.

Some Thoughts of my Own on Awakening

In her review, Bernadette says how she picked up Awakening thinking she would have a 10 minute read then finding herself on page 162 and staying up way too late. The exact thing happened to me. The author hooked me and I kept telling myself, "just one more chapter." Her first person narration keeps the story moving and since we only know what Clair Benning knows we want to find out what she will learn next.

Clair is a veterinary surgeon in charge of a wildlife hospital in an English village. The way she describes the creatures she works with, ecological issues, people's reactions to wildlife, and the countryside had a strong effect on me. And she does it very well.

Nearly all reviewers describe the character Sean North, a world famous herpetologist who travels the world with a camera crew, as Steve Irwin-like. That was my first reaction as well but I saw him more of a blend of Irwin's showmanship and a serious scientist like Joesph Slowinski, a scientist-adventurer who died after being bitten by a krait in Burma. There is an interesting book about Slowinski, The Snake Charmer. I like books that make me want to research a topic and Awakening did that.

Bolton works a bit of the Gothic into the story: a ruined church, an abandoned house, a charismatic cult leader, dark family secrets. Apparently, the English village is a lethal place to live, something I should have thought of as my wife and I drove around the U.K. last fall. I should have been on guard. The Gothic aspects contribute to the thriller aspect of the story and personally, I like a touch of the dark and mysterious.

S. J. Bolton can be found at at Her first book was Sacrifice and her latest is Blood Harvest, currently available in trade paperback as part of Waterstones three-for-two promotion.

Now, go read these reviews:
Bernadette's Review at Reactions to Reading
Dorte's Review at DJs Krimiblog
Lesa's Review at Lesa's Book Critiques
Corey Wilde's Review at The Drowning Machine