Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Awakening - S J Bolton
This is not a book to read if you have a snake phobia! In Awakening by S J Bolton, Clara Benning is a young woman who has always sought to hide herself away from people after a tragic childhood accident left one side of her face badly scarred. She moved to a remote cottage in an isolated, rural English village to be on her own as much as possible, working as a vet at the local animal rescue hospital.
Not much happens in this sleepy village, aside from a group of rowdy teenagers making noise late at night and indulging in some petty vandalism. So the village is shocked when one of the elderly residents is taken into hospital after being bitten by an adder, and Clara is then taken by surprise when she is called out one night to assist in removing snakes that have suddenly appeared in one of the local houses. She initially thought that finding an adder in the cradle of a newborn baby was the worst horror she would have to sort out, but the discovery of a deadly taipan, one of the most venomous snakes in the world dramatically changes the stakes.
Clara takes the deadly snake to renowned young herpetologist Sean North for positive identification, and on finding out that the elderly gentleman who had been bitten had far too high a concentration of snake venom in his bloodstream for a single adder to have been responsible, they have to start considering whether this was actually a murder.
So what part does the creepy old Witcher house have to play? It is supposedly empty, but dark, shadowy figures have been seen at the windows, and Clara starts to believe that her old acquaintance, Albert Witcher, is not really dead after all. Then there is the mystery of the church that was burned out in 1958, killing several of the villagers. Why were the emergency services not called for several hours after the blaze started and why will no one talk about it?
As more elderly village folk get killed and there are more terrifying incidents with snakes, Clara is trapped in a desperate game to find information on what is really going on in the village before more people get killed. Most of the villagers are not talking, and several of the shadowy Witcher family have supposedly moved away and dropped out of view. The village is built in an area where there are many natural watercourses, old mine workings and secret tunnels, which our intrepid heroine Clara runs around in the dark of the night, trying to find the evidence she needs. But all the clues seem to point back to the creepy old Witcher house, and Clara will have to brave the dark and the decay of the old building to find out what is really going on
As the finger of suspicion is pointed firmly at Clara as the murder suspect, she finds support in Matt, a local detective, and from Sean North, the charismatic TV reptile specialist. But as Clara finds out more about what really happened in the Church, and the torture of an innocent man, the noose begins to tighten and her very life is in danger. Can she clear her name and save the life of Matt, the first man that she has ever been attracted to?
Very creepy and detailed horror story and you will learn more about snakes, strange Roman execution customs and American charismatic religious leaders, than you perhaps want to know! After reading this you might want to change your locks before you find a taipan in your bed! Definitely a book to be read under the bedclothes with a torch and a large supply chocolate!