After loving the murder-mystery/myth based-fiction in S.J. Bolton’s first book, “Sacrifice”, I couldn’t wait to tackle her second novel. I was prepared for more of the same- a plucky female protagonist with more smarts than are good for her and a plot laced with British mythology.
I didn’t expect Bolton to go above and beyond in this novel. We’re introduced to Clara Benning, a completely antisocial vet who is scarred (literally) from a traumatic incident in her past. Because of her appearance, she is far more at ease around animals of all varieties than people and has moved to a quiet English village to practice among the local wildlife. Things start to get creepy when snakes start turning up all over the village, in numbers great enough to be a threat to local residents. Even more mysterious is the fact that some of the snakes aren’t native to England and are extremely poisonous. Clara is called upon to assist in identifying these specimens, bringing her into contact with a handsome constable and a reptile expert/TV star.
Figuring out just where these snakes are coming from leads Clara on an unexpected hunt into the dark secrets of her village- secrets that the residents would rather remain locked away.
Sometimes, I had to pause during this book and go “GAH, why am I reading this?!?!” I’m typically not the murder-mystery reader, mostly because I do my reading before bed, and suspense plus scenes involving deadly creepy crawlies equals me waking up Army Boy. At the same time, Bolton is masterful at describing the places she writes, and by the end of the book I felt like I could have easily walked around Clara’s village and seen familiar landmarks. Some of the reviews on this book that I read talk about how Clara’s personal tragedy in her past takes away from the action of the plot, but I find that Bolton always has a reason for revealing truths about her characters. In this case, it allows us to see Clara’s growth throughout the course of the book, and be pleased with her character’s evolution.
I’m hoping that the Birthday Fairy (AHEM ARMY BOY) is planning on getting me her third novel… it will take me easily that long until I’m ready for my next selection.
Currently Reading: “The Mists of Avalon”~ Marion Zimmer Bradley (an old favorite that I needed to reread)
“City of Fallen Angels”~ Cassandra Clare
To Read: “A Discovery of Witches”~ Deborah Harkness
“Clockwork Angel”~ Cassandra Clare