Awakening

( 14 )

Overview

Clara Benning, a veterinary surgeon, is young and intelligent, but reclusive. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she prefers animals to people. When a man dies following a supposed snakebite, Clara?s expertise is needed. She?s chilled to learn that the victim?s postmortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in one snake: The killer was human. Assisted by a neighbor and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara uncovers links to an ancient ritual, an abandoned house, and a fifty-year-old ...

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Awakening

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Overview

Clara Benning, a veterinary surgeon, is young and intelligent, but reclusive. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she prefers animals to people. When a man dies following a supposed snakebite, Clara’s expertise is needed. She’s chilled to learn that the victim’s postmortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in one snake: The killer was human. Assisted by a neighbor and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara uncovers links to an ancient ritual, an abandoned house, and a fifty-year-old tragedy. But for someone the truth must remain buried in the past—even if they have to kill to keep it there.

Awakening is a disturbing tale of dark secrets that will have readers unable to stop for a breath until they reach the stunning climax of this extraordinary read from acclaimed author S. J. Bolton.

Winner of the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark Award

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Awakening

Awakening is a delicious Gothic thriller.”

—Maureen Corrigan, NPR, on Awakening

“Page-turning suspense.”

Booklist (A Top Ten Crime Novel of the Year)

“I was totally riveted by S. J. Bolton’s second thriller, Awakening. . . . Perfect reading for a long plane trip.”

—Nancy Pearl on Awakening

“The page-turner of the summer . . . It’s been a long time since we’ve devoured a book this length at one sitting. . . . We were just grateful to find ourselves in the hands of as extraordinary a storyteller as S. J. Bolton.”

The Denver Post on Sacrifice

Marilyn Stasio
For all the Gothic elements that Bolton has wrapped around her story to create suspense, there's more satisfaction in listening to Clara talk about snakes and watching her handle them…carefully.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Clara Benning, a reclusive vet who's the narrator of Bolton's solid second thriller (after Sacrifice), spends her days treating badgers, boars and other wildlife at the Little Order of St. Francis in an isolated Dorset, England, village. When a distraught mother calls on Clara to remove a venomous snake from her baby's crib and another family's home is overrun with snakes, including a deadly Australian taipan, Clara realizes there must be a human agency behind the snake attacks, at least two of which will prove fatal. With the help of Assistant Chief Constable Matt Hoare and eccentric herpetologist and TV star Sean North, Clara begins to unravel a tangle of long-kept village secrets stretching back generations. Bolton milks the myriad snakes, even the harmless ones, for all they're worth, but falters with Clara, whose fraught family history (she bears disfiguring facial scars from a rarely discussed childhood accident) tends to undercut the suspense. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In Bolton's sophomore effort (after Sacrifice), solitary wildlife vet Clara Benning is called to investigate when snakes appear to be overrunning her small Dorset village. Then a man dies from what is believed to be a snakebite, but his body is full of too much venom to have been naturally caused by a single snake. At the same time, Clara's mother dies, bringing up painful childhood memories revolving around Clara's facial scar. Bolton has written a dark, eerie tale worthy of Edgar Allan Poe but in the modern style of Barbara Vine and Simon Beckett.


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
There is love, murder and snakes in the grass in a picturesque English village. Clara Benning is a young veterinary surgeon whose patients these days run to animals considerably less exotic than cobras. But she's logged a good bit of time in the herpetology precincts of world-class zoos. Clara knows which snakes are placid, which are poisonous and which are found in Dorsetshire only in the company of person or persons unknown. Consider the Australian taipan, aka "the Devil from Down Under." It's big, powerful, easily annoyed and routinely lethal. Clara can't explain how a taipan came to Dorset. Nor can hunky Assistant Chief Constable Matt Hoare, who's confronted with a community in rising panic. What's clear, however, is that someone pretty smart about snakes is employing them as deadly weapons. Evil is slithering through Dorset, and plucky Clara won't rest until she scotches it. Bolton (Sacrifice, 2008) overplots on occasion, but her heroine, so troubled and so valiant, is irresistible.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312381875
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 257,139
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.66 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

SHARON BOLTON, an International Thriller Writers and Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist, grew up in Lancashire, England, and now lives near Oxford with her family. Her novels are inspired by her fascination with British folklore. Sharon Bolton was previously published as S.J. Bolton.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The story line is exciting

    In an isolated part of Dorset, England veterinarian Clara Benning treats injured wildlife at the Little Order of St. Francis. The remote locale is a perfect fit for the withdrawn Clara who emotionally never recovered from facial scars she received from a childhood accident. ---------------

    Her panic stricken mother demands Clara come home immediately to remove a venomous snake from her baby's crib. Soon after handling that dangerous situation, the house of a neighbor is turned into a deadly snake haven to include the extremely poisonous Australian Taipan. An autopsy of one human death from snake bite proves the victim had way too much venom than a single snake could have secreted; Assistant Chief Constable Matt Hoare assumes a homicide occured. He is in charge of the official inquiry into the snake manifestation that has already claimed a second person, but he knows he is out of his element. With Clara and eccentric TV star herpetologist Sean North, Matt investigates who is behind the snake attack and why; nobody understand the connection to a five decade old tragedy.-----------------------

    The story line is at its exciting best when snakes in the village star; when the subplot involves Clara's past and somewhat that of her family, AWAKENING loses some of its poisonous bite as that feels unnecessarily intruding. Still this is a terrific tale mindful of Snakes on a Plane and Arachnophobia as the zillion different types even the non-poisonous will have readers checking inside cabinets, mail boxes, dryers and water heater corners before reaching out with a hand in a look before you touch scenario.--------------------

    Harriet Klausner

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Thrilling

    The story line is so original in this book! Could not put it down between the snakes and the mystery of the fire in 1958 I had qoose bumps throughout. Clara is such a strong character backed by a great cast. I couldnt find anything wrong with this book if I tried.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2013

    Awakening is a deeply disturbing story about a small town myster

    Awakening is a deeply disturbing story about a small town mysteriously infested by snakes – and not the garden variety, but dangerous killers brought here from Papoea New Guinea. When veterinary surgeon Clara, a recluse by her own making, gets summoned to help when a hysterical mother finds a snake in her baby’s crib, that’s only the beginning of the madness. Later on, a man dies from a seemingly innocent snake bite, and 39 snakes are found in one of the neighboring houses. Is it just a random occurence, or is someone behind it?

    At first Clara wants to stay out of this as much as possible. She’s a recluse by choice, preferring to stay away from company ever since she was harmed when she was a baby, leaving her with terrible scars on her face. But she can’t help but get involved in this case, as every occurence requires the help and assistance of a veterinary. On top of that, old man Witcher, a man she somewhat got along with, has returned from the death and is now stalking her every move, even appearing in her home. So maybe Witcher isn’t dead at all, and he’s the culprit behind the snake attacks, or maybe someone who looks a lot like the old man she used to know has returned to town…

    With Clara’s life and reputation at stake as more and more fingers begin to point in her direction, she must take matters into her own hands and find out what is going on. Her search leads her back to the town’s history, to a church that burned down decades ago, to the Witcher family…

    I actually really liked Clara, which is strange because she avoids all human contact if possible and prefers to stay on her own. I liked that – it was new, it was fresh. We don’t offer get a protagonist who’s scarred for life and too afraid to talk to people, and it was an original asset to the story. The novel actually had a very gothic feel, both because of the descriptions of the town, and because of the protagonist, who acts like she just ran away from a gothic novel. I also liked the hint of romance in the book, and how Clara learns, along the way, that looks aren’t everything. People might start to care for her, even though she has a disfigured face. People might treat her like an ordinary human being and look past those scars if she gives them the opportunity. So in that sense, this novel is a bit like a coming-of-age story, although Clara is already in her thirties. The protagonist goes through an almost insane amount of character development here, which was great.

    The story itself was intriguing as well, although it was also a bit awkward here and there. I liked the setting – the old town, the abandoned house, the snakes – but some things were a bit too random for me to ignore. Like when at some point Clara is chased by some other village people, I was continuously wondering “why”. I mean, these people are stupid and ignorant, sure. But is it just because she’s scarred that they’d chase her down and call her names? I doubt that, unless they were highly intoxicated or something. Either way,that was just one of the few things that didn’t make sense to me. I also thought the story of what happened in the past was a bit over the top.

    All in all, the book was a great read, even if some parts of the story made me frown. It had intriguing characters, especially the protagonist, and a mysterious setting to match the extraordinary plot. I wouldn’t mind seeing more books by this author, especially if she brings me another one featuring the same protagonist.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    Well done.

    Well done.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2013

    Another exciting read from SJ Bolton!

    Good thriller with great characters. Enjoyed reading about the wildlife vet clinic and the treatment given to the animals.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Very interesting and enjoyed reading

    Got 5 stars

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    Gtg.

    <>

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  • Posted April 7, 2014

    You can read what the story is about in the Overview or review b

    You can read what the story is about in the Overview or review below mine-- What I will say is that I could not put the book down until I had finished it. It is so well written that I was totally immersed in the plot. I kept saying to myself, &quot;I'll start the wash after another chapter,&quot; or &quot;I'll start dinner in just a few more pages&quot; and that it how it went all day until I finished this great read. I loved it so much I got two more of Bolton's books. I loved this book.

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    Posted October 12, 2013

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    Posted January 21, 2014

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    Posted December 31, 2011

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    Posted December 7, 2013

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    Posted November 30, 2010

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    Posted June 3, 2009

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