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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly un-put-downable
Awakening is written with true expertise. S J Bolton has truly done her research to create this masterpiece of a novel. Her second novel was recommended, the books i tend to chose being crime/thriller/pyschological and i was not disappointed. I was terrified at points yet unable to put it down for needing to know what would happen next. I was fascinated in her details of...
Published on 1 Sept. 2009 by T. Cook

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not great but worth a look
Awakening is set in a small town village where many snakes; deadly or not have been showing up in houses recently. The citizens confront Clara Benning, a vet who is another citizen of the small village. Clara is a quiet woman who doesn't like interacting with humans very well after a tragic childhood accident.

As more and more snakes keep appearing Clara...
Published on 8 Mar. 2013 by JSM


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly un-put-downable, 1 Sept. 2009
By 
T. Cook (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Awakening (Hardcover)
Awakening is written with true expertise. S J Bolton has truly done her research to create this masterpiece of a novel. Her second novel was recommended, the books i tend to chose being crime/thriller/pyschological and i was not disappointed. I was terrified at points yet unable to put it down for needing to know what would happen next. I was fascinated in her details of snakes, their habitats and behaviour as was i in the details of the religious sections that do indeed exist. The characters were believable and you could imagine them as people you know. Clara (the main character) carries so many wonderful emotions, disfigured as a child and living away from public attention working as a vet in a small community "animals don't judge", she is an authority on all things reptilian and is called in to help when her sleepy village discovers a snake problem. There is sexual tension between her and the local policeman and the world famous snake expert and the only disappointment to me was not knowing which one she would chose ! - Clara's emotions were conveyed in such a way that you felt you were going through them with her, especially when her mother dies, a real tear jerking moment, yet not written in an over worded sloppy manner. I won't write about the details of the plot as the book really is so good you have to read it yourself.
I thought her first novel Sacrifice was pretty good but it is not a patch on this brilliant piece of work.
I can't wait to read the next book. Congratulations to S J Bolton.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Scary Read, 20 April 2009
By 
Simon Clarke (Hackney, London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Awakening (Hardcover)
S.J.Bolton's second novel, following the first-rate
'Sacrifice', is a meticulously researched,
well-paced and throughly scary thriller.
Young veterinary surgeon,Clara Benning works in a
wildlife santuary in Dorset.She is facially scarred
and psychologically damaged and avoids contact with
humans wherever possible-until deadly snakes appear
in her village, killing a man.As the local expert,
Clara becomes involved as the deaths increase,and a
terrifying secret from the village's past is slowly
revealed.
A tremendously good read,and marks S.J.Bolton as one
of the best writers in this genre.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER GREAT READ BY THIS UP AND COMING AUTHOR, 18 April 2009
By 
J. R. Daniell "Avid Reader" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Awakening (Hardcover)
Really enjoyed this. Clara is a vet in a village, she trys to be a recluse as much as possible due to a accident as a child where she is disfigured. An encounter with a snake sets things in motion in this great story. I think the book is well thought out and really does keep your attention, and keeps you guessing.
The attention to detail is really well done, the author really sounds like she knows all about snakes. There is definitely a local village feel to the book, and the way she deals with the disfigurement is very realistic in the sense of how people react and how she feels when out in public.
This is her second book, and I would recommend all crime and thriller fans read this. In fact everyone should give it a go. It is also good that you don't need to have read her first book (Sacrifice) as it is a different character. I am looking forward to her next book already.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy, gripping and unusual, 7 Mar. 2010
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Awakening (Paperback)
In a field awash with gothic crime novels this genuinely felt fresh and unusual to me. Others have already discussed the plot so I won't repeat that but will say that I started reading this one evening and was up until 2am literally unable to put it down.

There are certainly some flaws in the book: the 'surely I'm not the only man to find you gorgeous' moment (!); the rather pedestrian 'love triangle' that doesn't really go anywhere (and how can she have lived practically next door to a man in a tiny village and not know he has a girlfriend?); most of all the motivation of the perpetrator which I can't say more about without spoiling the plot for new readers. There are also a few too many people obsessed with snakes in a small community.

But these are small niggles that can be swept away in the overall narrative. The first half, especially, I found really gripping, the second slightly less so as the action got a little frantic and, frankly, unbelievable. But caveats aside, this is a bold and clever book that I devoured in two nights. I have to confess that I absolutely hated Sacrifice finding the central plot just too outrageously ridiculous for words but Bolton has redeemed herself in this book. Fabulous entertainment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I particularly enjoy thrillers, crime novels and mysteries so I was ..., 13 May 2015
This review is from: Awakening (Paperback)
Awakening was the second novel published by Sharon Bolton in 2009. It was book of the month for my book group. I particularly enjoy thrillers, crime novels and mysteries so I was really pleased. I had met Bolton at Bloody Scotland in Stirling last year. It was most interesting to learn how she started writing and to hear her read her work and speak about it. None of the other members of the group had heard of S J Bolton and Awakening got a very mixed review from our members.

I found Awakening to be a well paced thriller, set in small English village introduces us to a young, reclusive, veterinary surgeon, Clara. She has been deeply scarred, physically and emotionally by an event from her childhood. A number of strange occurrences involving snakes draw Clara into investigating the mysteries with interesting results.

The story explores family secrets and discusses the lives of the four or maybe five Witcher brothers. They were once pillars of the community but strange religious rituals occurred fifty years ago at a church that was burned and never restored. There is also a strange, American sect the Church of the Latter Rain to contend with.The novel is a quintessential Gothic crime thriller. It is no coincidence that Bolton was dubbed the "high priestess of rural Gothic crime" in Harrogate, England at the book festival there in the summer of 2011. The author does, however, allow the reader a hint of romance when a kind neighbor and a TV celebrity and noted herpetologist befriend Clara.

If you enjoy a good mystery and love animals then Awakening is a great book for you. I found it tense and gripping. I could not put the book down and was impressed with the amount of interesting facts about snakes the author managed to incorporate into the narrative without boring me. I love animals and appreciated the character’s compassion for these often misunderstood creatures. I highly recommend this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awakening for me, to an author I didn't know at all but whom I liked very much!, 1 Mar. 2014
By 
Myriam Ickx (Bousval, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Awakening (Paperback)
I don't know how I came to buy this book; actually, I think I'd been searching for something else with the same title, and I ended up reading my first book by Sharon Bolton. It was so gripping I couldn't let this book down, I even kept reading snatches in advance to see how the plot would develop! What I liked especially was the unusual main character: Clara,a wildlife vet, disfigured, wounded by life and almost misanthropic, not at all the type you would expect in a crime novel; then the crime weapons: poisonous snakes! On top of enjoying myself a lot with this book, I learned a lot about British snakes. This is certainly not the last book I will read by Sharon Bolton. I enjoyed it immensely and would heartily recommend it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, the pace never lets up, 12 April 2010
By 
Denise4891 (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Awakening (Paperback)
I'm not usually much of a thriller reader myself, but I'd heard good things about this book and I wasn't disappointed. Reclusive, enigmatic vet Clara Benning is a wonderful creation and I'd like to see SJ Bolton use her again in future books. Due to a facial deformity sustained in her childhood, Clara hides herself away from the world, working with wild animals so that she doesn't have to deal with cruel stares or clumsy sympathy from human beings. In her own words:

"So I am not beautiful, inside or out. I have a chip on my shoulder the size of a boulder, as my sister frequently and accurately reminds me. I am painfully shy, permanently short-tempered and totally self-obsessed".

The opening chapters contain quite a few mentions of the animal cruelty Clara encounters in the course of her work, and I thought at one point I was going to have to abandon the book because that's one subject that I find particularly difficult to read about. Luckily there's much less of it as the main storyline progresses and Clara reluctantly becomes involved in the hunt for the killer who is terrorising her village, joined in her quest by two likeable but very different leading men - and a lot of snakes! The pace never lets up and the ending is really breath-taking.

I'd recommend Awakening to fans of British thriller writers like Simon Beckett and .... (sorry my knowledge of the genre ends there!). The claustrophobic villagey background combined with an enigmatic loner for a protagonist also reminded me of Susan Hill's 'Simon Serrailler' novels.

Since finishing Awakening I've got hold of a copy of SJ Bolton's first novel, Sacrifice, and I'm very pleased to see that she's got a new book, Blood Harvest, coming out later this month.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not great but worth a look, 8 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Awakening (Paperback)
Awakening is set in a small town village where many snakes; deadly or not have been showing up in houses recently. The citizens confront Clara Benning, a vet who is another citizen of the small village. Clara is a quiet woman who doesn't like interacting with humans very well after a tragic childhood accident.

As more and more snakes keep appearing Clara realizes that a man who's death was supposively an accident, was actually murder. More murders keep coming and Clara soon finds herself involved in the case despite her wishes. With the help from her neighbor, Matt and Sean North, a celebrity who has experience with snakes Clara tries to uncover the culprit of the strange happenings.

The only part of the book that I did not enjoy was the ending that was not very specific and made me wondering what happened next for Clara. Which I suppose is what the author always wants their readers to wonder, but not when there is no sequel or long epilogue
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing, 8 April 2010
By 
J.Flood (Dublin,Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Awakening (Hardcover)
Clara Benning is a reclusive vetinary surgeon living in a rural English village. When a man dies following a snake bite, Clara discovers that the man has much more venom in his system, than from one snake bite. Soon, more snakes start appearing in the village.

I found this book heavy going for about the first 200 pages, which is a large chunk of the book. My interested only got raised when the sinister events of fifty years earlier in the village, began to be revealed. The last quarter of the book is good, and character development is not too bad, but as thrillers go, I did not find this one very exciting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awakening, 17 Sept. 2009
By 
Ted Feit (Long Beach, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Awakening (Hardcover)
The little English village on the Devon/Dorset border where Dr. Clare Benning lives and works as a wildlife veterinary surgeon is suddenly overrun with snakes, or so it seems. First a man is brought to hospital suffering from snakebite poisoning; then a snake appears in the crib of an infant. Other incidents are found to have occurred, all within a few days. Clare thinks: "People didn't die of snake bite in quiet English villages. They didn't wake up to find poisonous tropical snakes in their houses. And they certainly didn't come back from the dead." Snakes happen to be Clare's area of expertise, and she is called upon for assistance, and her "quiet, orderly life [goes into] meltdown."

Somewhat dysfunctional [to call her existence solitary would be a gross understatement, and all made clear to the reader in due course], one could almost say Clare identified with the snakes, saying of herself: "I'd had it with human contact. I was slithering away, through the undergrowth, away from the noise and vibrations, seeking solitude and safety." Unexpectedly, there is a romantic connection hinted at, the object of which says to Clare: "You really don't do the human race, do you? . . . You should give your own species a chance, you know." And then there is the possible presence of ghosts; or rather, one ghost. Rather than testing my suspension of disbelief, as I expected, this element of the book only intrigued me further. A malevolence is being visited upon the villagers, but why? The author speaks of "our willingness to mistreat those weaker than ourselves," that "given a legitimate reason to be cruel, how often do we jump at it?"

The pacing of this book frequently left me literally holding my breath. In the process, I learned more than I ever thought I wanted to know about reptile aficionados and herpetology, e.g., the various ways specific kinds of snakes strike and bite and the precise manner in which snake venom kills its victims, varying with the type and species of the particular snake. Who knew? All fascinating, to be sure, albeit rather grim stuff. This is a very well-written, suspenseful and definitely different book, and is recommended.
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Awakening by Sharon Bolton (Hardcover - 23 April 2009)
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