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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  6,682 ratings  ·  716 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 ...more
Hardcover, 380 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Minotaur Books (first published 2008)
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Virginia Daum The violence except at the end was the usual clinical descriptions you find in detective novels or police procedurals. Only at the end when the…moreThe violence except at the end was the usual clinical descriptions you find in detective novels or police procedurals. Only at the end when the heroine if fighting for her life is their a bit of blood spilled, and deservedly so for the bad guys. Not too graphic though. It's the suspense in this novel that will get your spine tingling.(less)

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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,682 ratings  ·  716 reviews

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Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. 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 chapters are just the right length to allow you to read a
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
"At the end of the day, if you believe something deeply enough, it becomes a kind of truth."

And what exactly is that truth?

Tora Hamilton is now residing in a home she never bargained for on the wind-driven Shetland Islands. Her husband, Duncan, has returned to his roots here, but Tora is having a difficult time trying to plant hers. She has taken residency at the local hospital as a practicing obstetrician, but even that has left her at an arm's distance. Just doesn't seem to be the right fit.

Alex is The Romance Fox
Sacrifice is S J Bolton's debut's a dark, terrifying and an absolutely gripping thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page.

The Story
Tora Hamilton has moved with her husband, Duncan Guthrie to the Shetland Islands, where he was born with the hope to working out the problems they are experiencing in having a baby.

When she makes a gruesome discovery the body of a young woman, with strange rune symbols carved into her flesh and her heart ripped, in the ground
 Li'l Owl
Smashing Debut! Nerve jangling, heart pounding, suspense! Bristling with anticipation and trepidation!

I was in a hole in the ground, cut off from the world, and I didn't like it much.
The fabric was linen. That smooth-rough texture is unmistakable. Although it was stained the rich, deep brown of the surrounding soil I could make out the weave. From the frayed edges appearing at intervals I could see that it had been cut into twelve-inch-wide strips and wrapped around the object like an
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-author, audio
Very enjoyable murder mystery/drama set in the Shetland Islands. I love the characters Bolton creates - they are complex and real which gives her writing depth.
My only complaint is that she went a bit overboard with the details at times but there was only a small amount of shouting 'get on with it'!
The plot is pretty OTT but not in a bad way IMO and although the main character Tora is robust, stubborn and outspoken I really liked her!
It is worth noting that if you like Bolton's Lacey Flint
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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, ...more
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2019
This book is a mess.

I haven’t read mystery/crime books in a while and let me tell you this wasn’t a good choice to get me back into the genre. What started as the main character finding a body in her garden/field and her poking to find who the person was ended up as a pretty big conspiracy involving adoption of children.

I didn’t like the main character, she annoyed me so much, like is it not common knowledge NOT to destroy evidence? And it’s not like she does it once, no she does it a few
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
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) ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read quite a few books of late that are set in the Shetland Isles. Without exception each and everyone of the books take on the same aspect that is The Shetland Isles, dark and brooding.
Sacrifice is no exception to the rule.
After a hiatus of twenty years Duncan Guthrie returns to Shetland with his English wife Tora Hamilton. Duncan is trying to establish a new business and is away from home a lot. Tora is a consulting obstetrician working in the local hospital.
Whilst digging a very large
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
This was the first book I read of Sharon Bolton's and I was glued to the pages - loved it and all of her subsequent books that I've read!
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves atmospheric mysteries
Shelves: fiction, mystery, thriller
This book gripped me with its first startling sentence: “The corpse I could cope with. It was the context that threw me.” Bolton focuses the reader's attention on her protagonist, Tora Hamilton, the first person narrator of this story. It's a technique that summons the reader's empathy, while instilling a range of emotions: first grief, then morbid curiosity (after all, this is a mystery), and then the compulsion to find answers. The scene opens with Tora struggling with a rented backhoe in ...more
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
Dear Reader,

Imagine if you found a body of a woman in your back garden and on closer examination realised that not only was she murdered but her heart was removed from her body!

Yes,you read that correctly!! To add insult to injury,the authorities inform you that she had recently given birth before she took up permanent residence in your back garden some time ago.

Holding the position of resident gynaecologist in the local hospital,you begin your own research into female births and deaths in the
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Sean Peters
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I really enjoyed this book and SJ Bolton first book.

Throughout this book there were many twists and turns, and I was changing my mind who were the villains.

The tension and pace is very good and from about half way you do not want to book this down!

I do find it as always hard to give a good full review, because you do not want to leave any spoilers but you do want to recommend it.

So enjoy.


Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A mesmerizing story about the adoption of babies. Tora is persevering to solve the case. The personal struggle of Tora is very recognizable.
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Sandra Duncan
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Renee (itsbooktalk)
I hate to say it but this is the first Sharon Bolton book I've read that I just didn't enjoy. The plot seemed very far fetched and odd, I found the main character unlikeable, and the narrative heavy on medical details that I often found myself skimming through. Full review to come
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I was gonna give this a five...

Then later, halfway-through, I said, nope maybe a four...

Now I'm down to three. Good thing it wasn't any longer.

The story of a woman, Tora Hamilton, living in the Shetland Islands who finds a body buried on her property. She's about to dig a huge trench - via machinery, not shovel - to bury her poor dead horse in. However, she digs up a linen-wrapped, corpse with strange runes carved on her body and her heart ripped out. Oh, she's also recently given birth. This
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a thrilling and intriguing read that kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. The tone and voice of this one differ from Bolton’s later work and I found it more challenging to get invested in the characters. Overall it was a good book.
Jul 26, 2017 added it
A very chilling debut with great characters and a powerful story. The setting itself, the cold and wind-swept Shetland Islands, a hundred miles from the northeastern tip of Scotland, is very remote and forboding. When Tora finds a young woman's body on the hillside of her new home, she has no idea that the mystery of how it came to be there, in the state in which it is discovered, will have far reaching consequences for her and her husband.

I have read more recent books by this author and have
Emily Crow
Someday I will learn not to get excited about thrillers based on some sort of ancient gruesome (usually Nordic) pagan rituals being carried out in modern times. The plot summary always sounds so intriguing, and I just love this sort of horror-tinged story, and still...I am usually disappointed. This novel begins with a consulting OB-GYN who has just recently moved to the Shetland Islands, who discovers the mutilated corpse of a young woman buried on her land. The police immediately try to ...more
Fred Shaw
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Awesome, awesome, awesome fast paced thriller. Did I mention awesome? I gave it 5 stars, yes FIVE. Sharon Bolton, AKA S.J. Bolton is a skilled, creative writer. This is the 4th of her books I've read and I believe this one's the best. "Sacrifice" was Sharon's debut novel, released in 2008. I have a theory that authors put their best foot forward with their fist. They work hard to create a unique story, to keep the reader's attention, they scrub the results, have it reviewed by many and then ...more
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not my favorite to date, but still a worthy read.

Bolton has a talent choosing and describing interesting, almost exotic, settings, such that they become an integral part of the story.

She also gives her characters believable professions that are intimately tied into the plot and which she portrays with an authority.

My biggest gripe was with the somewhat convoluted twists and turns this story takes. I expect a good story to push the boundaries of believability but this one pushed further than
Spotted on pat's profile

Withdrawn from Oxfordshire Library Service, this is the large print edition published by Thorndike Press.

From the author's note: Sacrifice is a work of imagination, inspired by Shetland legend.
For Andrew,
who makes everything possible;
and for Hal,
who makes it worthwhile.

Opening quote: There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls. George Carlin.

Great opening: The corpse I could cope with. It was the context that threw me.

#19 TBR Busting
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: passed-on
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,
The British Isles are replete with folklore, and in the remoteness of the Shetland Islands, natives still tell tales about the Trows, little grey men who fear iron, love silver, and reside in the rolling hillsides. For their race to continue, the Trows must mate with human females. S. J. Bolton, whose given name is Sharon, builds her debut mystery around these legends to great effect.

Tora Hamilton is an OB/Gyn who relocates with her husband, who was born there, to the Shetlands. She enjoys her
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Sharon's newest book The Craftsman is now available for pre-order and is out on the 3rd May 2018 in the UK! PLUS Alive, a short story/prequel is available for FREE! (see Sharon's website
Pre-order here now

Sharon J Bolton was born and brought up in Lancashire, the eldest of three daughters. As a child, she dreamed of
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“OK, I'll tell you what did it for me. In my third year I read a book by some big obstetrical cheese. There was a whole load of bunkum in it, mainly about how all the problems women experience during pregnancy are due to their own small brains. But the bit that really got me was his dictum about new mothers should wash their breasts before and after each feed.'

Gifford was smiling now. 'And that's a problem because . . . ?'

' Do you have any idea how difficult it is to wash your breasts?' From the corner of my eye, I saw someone glance in our direction. ' New mothers can feed their babies ten times or more in twenty-four hours. So, twenty times a day, they're going to strip to the waist, lean over the basin of warm water, give them a good lather, grit their teeth when the soap stings the cracked nipples, dry off and then get dressed again. And all this when the baby is screaming with hunger. I just thought : I don't care how technically brilliant this man is, he should not be in contact with stressed and vulnerable women.”
Tora Hamilton”
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