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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,477 ratings  ·  352 reviews
In this masterful debut that starts off as a mystery and becomes much more, ToraHamilton is an outsider at her new home on the rocky, wind-swept Shetland Islands, a hundred miles from the northeastern tip of Scotland.Though her husbandgrew up here, it’s the first time he’s been back in twenty years.Digging in the peat on their new property, Tora unearths a human body, at f...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2008)
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Rating: 4.5 stars

I loved this. It's so creepy and chilling, and packed full of gripping suspense.

Something sinister is happening to young women out on the remote Shetland Islands. Ancient island legends appear to be coming true in the most horrifying of ways, leading the reader into a tension filled page turner.

As Tora (our heroine) begins to uncover disturbing evidence and folklore, everyone falls under suspicion. Many theories are formed, and with one shocking twist after another, my head was...more
My first reading experience of author S.J. Bolton, but it will not be my last. Bolton writes the kind of books I especially relish; spooky, mysterious and historical mixed with murder and a dash of romance against an appealing setting (in this case, the wild, lonely Shetland Islands off the northern coast of Scotland).

Bolton's research into some of the ancient legends of the Shetlands is woven into the story and creates a truely atmospheric tale of sacrificial murder, community secrets, page tur...more
The mystery and suspense in S.J. Bolton's debut novel aren't its only attractions--although there is plenty of both to please the most devoted fan of the genre. For me it was the unique setting and the carefully-crafted backstory that made the book a good read.

Bolton takes us to what seems like the ends of the earth. The setting is actually the Shetland Islands, the wind-racked and wave-torn granite outposts a hundred miles northeast of the Scottish mainland. The damp, violent climate and glower...more
Lance Greenfield
Grim, gripping and gruesome

There are several intertwined storylines running through this book.

The narration in the first person by Tora Hamilton, a consultant surgeon, an outsider in the Shetland Isles, despite her husband's local roots, works very well.

The whole saga begins with Tora digging a hole in her field to bury the body of her recently deceased horse. She is shocked to find a well-wrapped human body at the bottom of her pit. Is it an ancient burial? Is it a recent murder victim? Who is...more
Candace Burton
Dear authors of thrillers, please do not construct your narrative so that the protagonist needs to spend several pages creeping around alone, in the dark. You are asking to have pages skipped until quotation marks begin reappearing. Having said this, however, I thought Bolton's first book (I was surprised this was her debut; I read Awakening first and it has such a different and so much less complex construction that I assumed it came first) was pretty clever and a good example of psychological...more
Andrew Murray
Oct 20, 2010 Andrew Murray rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Andrew by: readers on Goodreads!
I'm very surprised by the number of favourable reviews here on this book. In my view this is a very poorly written piece of fiction - so poor that I gave up after about 70 pages.

Why poorly written? There are too many instances where the writer is "telling" instead of "showing". Whole sections devoted to the obvious research which the writer has done and which she feels needs to be replicated in her novel. I got the impression that she might have used "cut and paste" to lift large chunks of her n...more
Joanne Sheppard
Like a lot of people, I often aim for an easy read when I'm on holiday. I may not be one for lying on a beach - hence my choice of destination; so far temperatures have peaked at a balmy 13C - but a 'beach read' is still a pleasure now and again even if you're actually reading it in the cabin of an overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick. On this trip, I opted for Shetland-set thriller Sacrifice by SJ Bolton. I'd read another of her horror-tinged page-turners, Blood Harvest (also on holiday) an...more
Shellie (Layers of Thought)

I devoured this murder mystery. It is a definite page turner as the author's writing is easy to follow and kept me up till past midnight.

The story is based lightly upon some ancient myths from where it's set - The Shetland Islands off the Northern Coast of Scotland. This legend involves Nordic trolls (I love trolls), giving this novel a bit of a supernatural edge. However this doesn't shift its anchor in reality. It just gives the story a slight other worldly flavor. Delish!

The story reminded m...more
Wow! Just…wow! I’m so glad I decided to read S.J. Bolton's debut novel. I have read more recent ones, and been very impressed, so thought I’d give this one a go!

The story is centred around Shetland Island in Scotland, where ancient legends abound and terrifying stories of mysterious happenings weave their way into everyday life. Tora Hamilton and her husband Duncan had just moved to remote Shetland, and although Duncan was originally from there, he hadn’t been back for 20 years. Tora got herself...more
Aug 03, 2011 Carol rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: those liking fast based thrillers with strong female characters
Recommended to Carol by: Beth M
Shelves: fiction
Beth could say "I told you so". She's the friend who recommended Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton to me some time ago. Who knows why I didn't pick it up immediately as Beth and I have like tastes in fiction; not just in thrillers but across the board. Beth told me I'd like this one and she was right!

Tora Hamilton is having a bad day. Her beloved horse Jamie has died and Tora plans to illegally bury him on her Shetland property. Her husband's away so she'll need to do this alone, no easy task for this in...more
The setting captured me first: Shetland, subarctic archipelago more than one hundred miles north-east of the Scottish coast. A land of granite and peat bogs, lying under rainy grey skies and battered by wind and waves. It is so vividly captured, so right for the dark, almost gothic, storyline, and its character and legends will become part of that story.

The story opens dramatically, on a stormy evening with the light slowly fading. A woman is determined to give her beloved horse a proper burial,...more
Sandra Duncan
This book is all right as a light read but it has serious flaws.

1. It is far too long. It quickly reached the point for me that I lost patience with the unbelievable plot drivers. Too many people doing too many unexplainably daft things to keep the story going.

2. A whole series of one-dimensional characters - a medical consultant who left all financial dealings to her husband and was unaware that he received regular payments into his bank account from an unknown source!

3. The author has research...more
Janset Atacan
Kocaman bir ''Aman Tanrım!'' ile başlamak istiyorum çünkü Kurban son zamanlarda okuduğum en iyi kitaplardan biriydi ve büyük bir ihtimalle önümüzdeki 5 gün yeni bir kitaba başlayamayacağım.
Kurban,insan olmanın ne demek olduğunu,getirilerini ve bizden götürdüklerini anlatıyor.Otuz üç yaşındaki Tora eşi Duncan ile birlikte Shetland Adalarına taşınıyor.Ve evlerindeki ilk günlerde Tora bahçesinde bir ceset buluyor.Troll efsanelerinden fırlamış işaretlerle süslü (!) kalbi koparılmış bir kadın.Yazar k...more
Catherine Woodman
Both gripping and gruesome, `Sacrifice' is a definite page-turner, that is certain to keep you on your toes. When I first started reading it I wasn't sure that I'd get far with it, the writing was different to those I had read recently. However within a few chapters I was hooked and racing along with the narrative. Tora Hamilton took me a little while to warm to, perhaps this is why I was unsure at the start but I soon became caught up with her life.
The plot revolves around a discovery Tora mak...more
Tora Hamilton and her husband Duncan have recently moved from the the British mainland to the remote Shetland Islands, his childhood home and a place to which he hasn't returned since leaving for university. Engaged in her own risky and illegal behavior, burying her beloved horse Jamie, Tora unearths another body altogether, that of a young woman. And that's where the fun begins. Unable to put the woman out of her mind, suspicious of what she perceives as a cover-up, and against direct orders of...more
34 year old Tora Hamilton is a consultant surgeon who has recently moved to the remote Shetland islands with her native Islander husband Duncan, who himself has been away for 20 years. The story begins with Tora digging a hole to bury one of her horses when she discovers the perfectly preserved body of a young woman in the peat soil situated on her newly purchased property. What is even more unsettling for Tora is that the woman's heart has been removed and there are strange symbols carved onto...more
I couldn't believe this was a debut novel, the writing is slick, compelling and the main character drew me in from the first page.

Tora Guthrie is an obstetrician whose husband, Duncan has brought them back to his home Island of Shetland to live after a twenty year absence, but when he suggests they go 'home', Tora finds a job in the local hospital and Duncan buys an old house.

Things begin to go wrong when Tora accidentally digs up the body of a local woman on her land. Wrapped in linen and burie...more
Kathy B.
This book was what I want every book I read to be, a book I don't want to end. Bolton's deft handling of a complex plot was some great writing, which in turn gave me some great reading. The main characters became people I didn't want to let go of. After finishing this book, I raced to the library to see if they had Bolton's next two books, this amazing one being her first, but was disappointed to find them both checked out. I can't wait too long to continue reading this gifted author, so I might...more
Really enjoyed this book, couldn't put it down. I will be reading more of Sharon Bolton. Awakening next.
Daystar Daystar
Sadly I have to say this book was not for me. I couldn't engage with the main character at all, at times I almost disliked her. The book sounded so promising and I find it difficult to put my finger on why I didn't enjoy it. At times the plot was good and I did find my self warming to it but then it seemed to go off at a tangent and once again I was left wading my way through it. I really wish I could have been more positive about this book but it left me feeling let down.
Mar 09, 2014 Hamza added it
Kurban şu son zamanlarda okuduğum en iyi polisiye, gerilim romanlarından biri oldu. İlaç gibi geldi. Okurken burnumdan değilde başka bir tarafımdan nefes aldığım gerçeğini söylemek istiyorum. Nasıl bir psikoloji ile yazmış yazar gerçekten hayran oldum. O ürkütücü efsanaleri, dehşet verici anlatım tarzı….

Tora Hamilton bir doğum uzmanıdır. Eşi ile birlikte taşındığı shetland adasında tam da yeni alışmaya başlamışken evinin arka bahçesinde ölen atını gömerken hiç tanımadığı birinin cesedi çıkması...more
Wow, this is this author's first novel and I must say it is extremely good. The characters although there are quite a few are well described and I never once got confused about who was who. The plot is just riveting with many twists and turns and so many surprises. It is based on a very eerie legend of the Trews of the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. I have always been attracted to stories of legends so I really found this book fantastic.

I downloaded this on the strength of the rave reviews but I am left feeling amazed at how different I feel.

I did not like Tora and felt she was terribly self centred and rather odd. The middle part of the book was so boring, particularly the long horse ride which I feel did not need to be so lengthy.

I have read thousands of good thrillers but am sorry to say this is totally forgettable.
This is a really good mystery set on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland. Lots of twists and non-stop happenings. I really enjoyed it and found it interesting to read about this part of the world. The way the author describes it is a perfect setting for an eerie tale.
A good solid read! New mystery writer for me!
Reading through some negative reviews (rocks among diamonds... There are always a couple...) I have to say I believe that some people become utterly drunk with power if they're given only a tiny drop. Such is often the case with online reader reviews. Given a chance to vent and spew they certainly do. Upon reading their remarks, however, one often can't help but notice a decided lack of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism (points that show the reader actually read the book and remarked with fairness). Now, I...more
I enjoyed the read and was impressed this was a first novel. There were some weaknesses though. When Helen and Tora are escaping on horseback I wondered why Helen couldn’t have rung a colleague on the mainland and told them everything that had been happening. Instead she waited until morning because the helicopter apparently couldn’t fly at night. She still could have covered their backs though by letting someone else know what had been happening (Wake them, the situation was desperate.), so if...more
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SJ Bolton has just been added to my list of favorite authors!

Sacrifice was my second novel by Bolton; I first discovered this British author with her second novel Awakening—a unique and sharply-written mystery focused around a unexplained exotic snake epidemic in a small Dorset community. Sacrifice, her debut novel, is every bit as dark and compelling with a page-turning plot combining local Scottish lore with the accidental discovery of a murdered woman possessing Norse runes carved into her fl...more
Jerome Parisse
I love this one from S.J. Bolton. As usual coming from her, a gripping, gruesome story of a hidden clinic in the Shetland Islands trafficking premature babies and murdering innocent women. The closer you get to the truth, the more horrifying the story. Tora Hamilton is a newcomer on the Islands. She has followed her husband, who was born and grew up there before leaving behind a murky past. It all starts when Tora wants to bury a dead horse and... finds the mummified body of a woman. Little does...more
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  • House of the Lost
  • A Room Full of Bones
  • The Burning (Maeve Kerrigan, #1)
  • Red Bones (Shetland, #3)
  • Borderlands (Inspector Devlin, #1)
  • Black Dog (Ben Cooper & Diane Fry, #1)
  • Above Suspicion
  • Blacklands
  • The Coroner (Jenny Cooper, #1)
  • Little Face (Spilling CID, #1)
  • The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler, #1)
Sharon J Bolton was born and brought up in Lancashire, the eldest of three daughters. As a child, she dreamed of becoming an actress and a dancer, studying ballet, tap and jazz from a young age and reading drama at Loughborough University.

She spent her early career in marketing and PR before returning to full-time education to study for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Warwick Univers...more
More about S.J. Bolton...
Now You See Me (Lacey Flint, #1) Dead Scared (Lacey Flint, #2) Blood Harvest Awakening Like This, For Ever (Lacey Flint, #3)

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