Folklore abounds in this chilly thriller
You might be forgiven for reading the first page or two and considering putting this book down Ė it is a little slow getting off the ground and the authorís apparent fondness for creatures of the equine variety could hardly be in doubt Ė but that will be the only time putting this book down will cross your mind.
Tora Hamilton is an obstetrician. She and a husband she appears to know only superficially have moved to the remote Shetland Isles, both have taken up new jobs and everything is still disorientating when Jamie dies. Jamie is her horse and very much the purveyor of doom for Tora, at least for the remainder of the novel. Whilst digging a grave for her horse, Tora discovers that the hole she just dug is already occupied... A corpse with strange markings on its back and its heart hacked out. Precisely what you donít want to find in your new back yard.
Sacrifice is inspired by documented Shetland folklore and legend, which only adds to the level of creepiness felt when we finally realise whatís going on. An island full of peculiar people might not sound that bizarre or even far-fetched, but it makes for scary late-night reading and riveting stuff.
The plot twist and turns like a snake trying to wriggle free, only at the very end does the author enlighten us as to the exact details of the gruesome truth. I canít quite get my head around the fact that an obstetrician has either the time or the inclination to chase around after perceived loose ends left by the lamentable local plod, but then, I have never accidentally dug up a dead body in my back garden, so presumably this is a reasonable response.
Tora is a bit of a know-it-all, which is slightly annoying, but other than that, she is completely believable as a modern professional who suffers with all the usual neuroticism and self-doubt that plagues most successful women. And Grifford, her new boss, is so well drawn that even I felt slightly hypnotised by his charm...
This is an unmissable, un-put-downable debut novel from S J Bolton... something I very rarely have the luxury of saying. I havenít seen this level of talent in a new writer for some years Ė itís bloody brilliant.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012