Since I first read Awakening in 2010 I’ve been a huge fan of Sharon (previously SJ) Bolton’s work. Here’s a few reason why:
1. Awakening was the first book which actually made me feel scared
I’m not the sort of person who gets scared easily. I’ve been watching horror films and playing games like Silent Hill since I was a kid because I know none of it’s real! But something about this book just got under my skin. Not to give away any spoilers but there but there’s one scene in particular set in a certain creepy old house which actually gave me goosebumps and made me shiver to the point where I had to get up and turn the main light on so I stopped freaking out…
2. Her books are very well researched
Her characters have some pretty interesting backgrounds and Bolton does a great job of not just making their role seem like a gimmick. She takes time to research what knowledge her characters would genuinely have and makes sure everything is relevant to the story. She’s written about psychologists, vets, snake experts, detectives, Jack the Ripper experts, surgeons, horse fanatics and vicars and each one is completely believable.
3. Her protagonists are wonderfully complex
She’s not the type of person who’s hero is completely perfect and wonderful. They have their flaws and their struggles which strengthens their character and leads to some wonderful character development as we see them attempt to overcome a lot of their issues, whether it’s a facial disfigurement, physical disabilities, dark secret pasts or the loss of a child.
4. The plots are unpredictable and full of suspense and some great twists!
I read a lot of crime fictions and thrillers and the best ones are the ones that always keep me guessing until the last pages (see Peter James’ Dead Like You or Michael Robotham’s Watching You) but often you find that some authors, particular if they’re writing a series can end up creating formulaic plots which may be entertaining at times but just too obvious. I’ve not experienced this in a single one of Bolton’s books – each one has kept me guessing through until the last pages. I’ve been shocked, scared and literally unable to put her books down at times and I can honestly say I don’t think she’s written a bad one so far!
5. She sets her books in a fantastic range of UK locations
She’s written books based in London, the Yorkshire Pennines (which she gets bonus points for because I’m from Yorkshire…), Cambridge Uni and even the Shetland Isles! Plus her next book, Little Black Lies, is going to be set on the Falkland Islands – don’t tell me that doesn’t sound awesome! She always manages to pick the perfect locations as a backdrop to her stories and her descriptions are always wonderfully accurate and atmospheric while never taking away from the actual plot!