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Awakening Paperback – May 25, 2010


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Awakening + Sacrifice + Blood Harvest
Price for all three: $31.60

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312381875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312381875
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #332,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The author of Sacrifice (2008) creates another strong, unusual woman protagonist in her second novel, which makes up for gaps in credibility with page-turning suspense and spectacular snake science. Bolton’s hero this time is insecure, solitary wildlife vet Clara Benning, who is called on when the quiet English village where she lives is beset by an epidemic of slithery reptiles, more than a few of which are non-native and lethally poisonous. Clara, whose scarred face has caused her to spend most of her life avoiding human company, suddenly finds herself the center of attention, at the precise time when her mother’s death has called up painful childhood memories and increased her emotional vulnerability. There’s a touch of romance to leaven Clara’s numerous grapplings with danger. Murky, abandoned churches and dark family secrets stretching back a generation lend a compelling gothic sensibility to this story of a woman who awakens to new possibilities. --Stephanie Zvirin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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I have read all of S.J. Bolton's novels, and Awakening is my favorite of all her works.
Z Hayes
Well drawn characters, a fast paced plot, numerous possible baddies, and excellent research add up to a very compelling read that I would recommend to anyone.
WitchyWoman
I enjoyed this read, but did find the feats of the heroine a little too far fetched for my taste, and SO many snakes, that was a bit too much too.
Sallie Hand

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First Sentence: The darkest hour I've ever known began last Thursday, a heartbeat before the sun came up.

Clara Benning is a veterinary surgeon who, due to a childhood accident, chooses to spend her time working with a wildlife hospital and living as a near recluse in her small village near the boundaries of Devon and Dorset England. Grass snakes are common in that area, but not when they invade households en masse. Even less common is when a resident dies by the bite of a black adder as many times the level of venom from one snake bite.

When a taipan, one of the world's most deadly snakes and native to New Guaina, is found, there is clearly a human hand at work killing elderly residents. Along with her neighbor, a police officer, and an internationally herpetologist, Clara must uncover a long buried secret and a killer, before more die.

I can't say I'm fond of snakes, but its clear Ms. Bolton has done her research. I found the information on snakes, the breeds, their venom and their history in England very interesting. I still don't want one as a pet, but the information was included in such a way that it added to the story without disrupting the flow.

And flow the plot did. From the very beginning, added by her vivid descriptions and very good suspense. The story did lag a bit at one point, but soon picked up again. I found myself reading much later into the night than I had intended. I was never able to predict where the story was headed. The twists were very well done.

Bolton likes very strong, very independent women. As with her first book, "Sacrifice," the protagonist doesn't need a man to rescue her.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
S. J. Bolton's heroine, Clara Benning, who is just shy of thirty, is a highly skilled veterinary surgeon who specializes in treating wildlife in a small English village. A terrible accident that occurred when she was a baby traumatized her to such an extent that she avoids social interaction whenever possible. "Awakening" is the story of Clara's reluctant emergence from the shadows.

Clara, the narrator, tells us how her "quiet, orderly life went into meltdown." One day, she gets a call from a frantic mother who tells her, "There's a snake in my baby's cot." Although Benning is a tough woman who does not frighten easily, she is understandably nervous when she races to the scene and sees an adder resting near the sleeping infant. "One lightning-charged strike and [the baby's] brief existence would be over." This dramatic scene sets the stage for a story that has elements of romance, mystery, zoology, and even a bit of the supernatural.

Dr. Benning is a remarkable woman who has steeled herself against feeling too deeply. She tends to the most ill-treated and badly injured animals with no obvious display of emotion. However, even the formidable Clara is badly shaken when someone starts using snakes to inflict harm on the town's residents. Where did these creatures come from and why would anyone deliberately use them as weapons? These crimes bring Clara into contact with Sean North , the "world's best known herpetologist," who is also a charismatic television personality, and Matt Hoare, an Assistant Chief Constable, both of whom are attracted to the prickly vet. When Clara is accused of committing the assaults herself, she turns sleuth, risking her life to solve a puzzle whose roots extend deep into the distant past.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
Bolton's second thriller after Sacrifice is as surprising- and different- as I expected. With a keen sense of timing, human nature and what seriously creeps people out, Awakening will not soon be forgotten and hopefully passed from friend to enthusiastic friend. It is nearly enough to say that the first sentence sets the tone for the story: "Human cruelty never surprised me." Certainly veterinarian Clara Benning is no stranger to random and vicious cruelties visited on those marked as different from others. Bearing a disfiguring scar on one side of her face, Benning has found solace in caring for various wild animals at a small clinic in rural Dorset, England. But when poisonous adder snakes begin appearing inside people's homes, the situation takes on a more sinister aspect. A local man is killed by a snake's venom; a family's house is suddenly filled with snakes of all kinds, including a particularly venomous variety that originated in Papua, New Guinea. Obviously, something is afoot, Clara caught in the crosshairs.

Turning compulsively from one chapter to the next, I am quickly seduced by Bolton's portrayal of the ambiguity of human nature with a series of characters as colorful as the snakes: a group of elderly people murdered one by one; a worldwide snake authority as strangely exotic as the field of his expertise; a detective constable who moves too closely into Clara's private space; and a family of men whose home is as mysterious and enigmatic as their past. Through it all, an exceptionally brave Clara ranges through the countryside seeking answers, oblivious to danger in her quest for truth and brutally honest about the perceptions of herself in the world.
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