How did it all begin? I suppose it would be the day I rescued a new-born baby from a poisonous snake, heard the news of my mother’s death and encountered my first ghost…
Veterinary surgeon Clara Benning is young and intelligent, but practically a recluse. Disfigured by a childhood accident, she lives alone and shies away from human contact wherever possible. But when a man dies following a supposed snake bite, the victim’s post mortem shows a higher concentration of venom than could ever be found in a single snake. Assisted by her softly spoken neighbour and an eccentric reptile expert, Clara unravels sinister links to a barbaric ancient ritual, an abandoned house and a 50-year-old tragedy that left the survivors fiercely secretive. Then the village’s inventive attacker strikes again, and Clara’s own solitary existence is brutally invaded. For someone the truth must remain buried in the past…even if they have to kill to keep it there.
©2009 S J Bolton (P)2010 Random House Audio Go
This was recommended to me by a fellow audible listener. Its pretty well non-stop action from the word go. Although there are a few details about Australian snakes which aren't quite right, and she does go into a bit of detail about them in a couple of section, the story is good. It keeps going in a fast paced way and I kind of liked the heroine of the piece as well. I will listen to this again at some point.
Awakening is another good suspense offering by S.J. Bolton.
The protagonist, Clara Benning, is a vet who has severe facial scarring and who prefers the company of animals to people. When people in her village start being bitten by poisonous snakes, she becomes involved by virtue of her experience as a vet, and things snowball from there.
The plot is full of interesting twists and turns. Trying to keep the family members straight is a little difficult, but that's part of the mystery. Bolton manages to deftly weave aspects of charismatic US snake-handling religious sects into small rural English village life. Most small villages have their idiots, and the unnamed village (which for no ascertainable reason is not identified by name) has more than its share of offerings.
As with her other work, Bolton manages to cast doubt on several characters who appear to be the bad guys. But as with her other books, the endings and the characters are surprising.
It's a good book and an interesting read. Clara Benning's experience and education don't seem to tally with her stated age in the story. She's also an irritating character in some ways, as she vacillates between dithering and refusing to take action and then taking completely unrealistic and uncharacteristic risks. The story behind her facial disfigurement is only revealed toward the end of the book, but there's no reason for it to have been kept hidden and secret for so long.
The tension and history between Clara and her alcoholic mother (who dies shortly after the book opens) isn't well developed. It's clear that Clara has serious issues about her mother, but there's not enough of that back story developed to justify the odd emphasis placed on the mother/daughter relationship in the book.
At first it was refreshing to see a book where the female lead isn't beautiful, but that doesn't last long. Clara is described as being beautiful despite the scarring, and she does indeed seem to end up having two potential romantic interests.
The narration by Alison Reid is not as good as the narration by Lisa Coleman. She tends to mispronounce words ("vetinary" as opposed to "veterinary", for example) and her American accent is not well done at all and detracts from the performance.
Audible has just started to add the S.J. Bolton works, and this is a good solid offering, even if it isn't the best example of her writing. It's a solid 4-star book, with a 3.5 star performance.
An enthralling well read story, but not for anybody with a snake phobia. An unusual plot well worth listening to. I will definitely down load another book by this author.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book even though the story was far-fetched in places. You can empathise with the main character, Clara Benning, a vet, who was disfigured in early childhood. I was hooked by the first few lines. The story is set in a small village and present day events are all related to a tragedy that happened in 1958. Not to be recommended if you don't like snakes!
The narrator was excellent and really brought the tale to life.
I found it a very boring story with poor plot weak characters ,to many situations overplayed like I lost count how many times someone or something was lurking in the dark shadows or that crash of something or other . It never gripped me and I found it impossible to get into the story
I was so glad just to make it to the end as it was so painful at times , especially when she liked to go technical on you, it was like sitting through a science class.
Yes I was happy just to get to the end
This book is peppered with condescending lectures it's like the author is telling you "look at all the research I have put in" Like the male mute swan is a Cobb, to quote just one. The story never moves up a gear it just chugs along like a old lumbering bus which to me was going uphill all the way , there was no excitement to this book the most boring book to date
This is quite a long audiobook so is difficult to listen to in one session. I listened to it while cooking over a number of meals and found it easy to get back into the story when I returned to it. I found it very enjoyable and beautifully read, and will look for more of S J Bolton's books.
"a nice one"
First, I did not like this one as much as her novels on PC Flint. Second I couldn't stop listening (audio book). The story swivels and changes directions like a snake and, by the way, do NOT read it if you suffer from snake fobia. This said, it's a well written story with interesting characters and dark secrets in a small remote village.
The story is ok, but the narrator is awful. She does not know how to breathe properly. I could hear that she changed breath every 20 seconds. (I was using my Iphone). It was so heavy, it almost like I was listening story told by a very ill person. Very disappointed.
"A bit of a disappointment"
This review will contain a bit of a spoiler not about the central mystery, just the romantic interest sub plot. Miss Bolton, I'm assuming it is Miss, likes to add a bit of Mills & Boon to her stories. Being a bit soppy myself I don't object to this but in this particular case I found the love interest distracting and annoying. The author spends a lot of time establishing what you think may turn into a romance and then in the last hour you find that the man has a girlfriend and is also trying to seduce our gutsy heroine. I maybe old fashioned but in my book that makes him a despicable cad, so why have we been encouraged to think of him as the romantic lead for the last 17 hours. To be honest I didn’t really cotton to him before the emergence of the girlfriend and our heroine leaves him behind in the end anyway. All this left me wondering why he was there in the first place, it all seems quite distracting and nothing at all to do with the main story. Add to this the heroines quite baffling ignorance of her rights viz a viz police interrogation and I was left feeling irritated and grumpy. This is not the kind of book you would listen more than once
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