Awakening by S J Bolton

I am now a confirmed S J Bolton fan, having recently finished a second novel of hers, Awakening.

Her heroine is Clara Benning, a competent and dedicated veterinary surgeon who suffered a facial disfigurement as a child indirectly caused by her alcoholic mother's neglect. As a result, it is not surprising Clara withdraws from people, preferring the non judgmental world of animals whom she treats with the compassion she is denied.

Called upon to dispose of a snake from a baby's cot, Clara arrives to find it is not a harmless species as she imagined. Then she hears of another village resient dying from a snake bite, followed by sightings of dangerous snakes, Clara decides this is too much of a coincidence to be a natural phenomenon.

With the help of a snake expert, an enigmatic character in himself, Clara is pulled into a fifty year old mystery that ended with a devastating fire in the local church. Before long she relises that someone is prepared to kill to keep their secret.

Ms Bolton has the ability to keep several balls in the air and the tension remains high throughout. I am usually adept at guessing the outcome of mysteries, but this author surprises me every time. Her writing style is succint, but with enough introspection that ensures the reader establishes a strong rapport with her main character.

Clara's personality is very credible in the way she avoids people, but is uncompromising in her devotion to the wild animals she cares for. Slowly, she learns she has more to offer than a damaged soul and begins to accept, even like herself, declaring with conviction that, 'It's only a scar'.

There is no romantic, fireworks going off happy ending, which I really liked, just Clara's gentle acceptance of her true worth and her hope for the future.

A very enjoyable read with some nail-biting moments.


Hannah Stoneham said…
This sounds rather moving and as though the character is really carefully constructed - thanks for bringing it to our attention!
Sounds interesting. I will check it out. Thanks for sharing.
Talli Roland said…
I've heard of this but I haven't read it yet - it's on my list! Thanks!
Danielle said…
Wow, I'm adding that to my list. I'm currently reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and then on to The Zookeeper's Wife and In the Woods. Saw both of those at Hastings and they looked wonderful!

Thanks for the synopsis!

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