Blood Harvest by S J Bolton: a Book Review

I thoroughly enjoyed Blood Harvest, even though (or maybe because) it’s a dark, scary book and one that I found disturbing, but thoroughly absorbing . Each time I had to stop reading it I was eager to get back to it. I’ve previously read S J Bolton’s earlier books – Sacrifice and Awakening – and think that Blood Harvest surpasses both of those.

It’s set in the fictional town of Heptonclough in Lancashire and there is a very helpful map at the start of the book showing the layout of the town. There are two churches, the ancient ruined Abbey Church and standing next to it the ‘new’ church of St Barnabas. The Fletchers have just moved into a new house built on the land right next to the boundary wall of the churchyard:

The Fletcher family built their big, shiny new house on the crest of the moor, in a town that time seemed to have left to mind it’s own business. They built on a modest-sized plot that the diocese, desperate for cash, needed to get rid of. They built so close to the two churches – one old, the other very old – that they could almost lean out from the bedroom windows and touch the shell of the ancient tower. And on three sides of their garden they had the quietest neighbours they could hope for, which was ten-year-old Tom Fletcher’s favourite joke in those days; because the Fletchers built their new house in the midst of a graveyard. They should have known better, really. (page 17)

Tom has a younger brother, Joe and they’re playing in the graveyard when they catch glimpses of a girl watching them, and hear voices. Their little sister, two-year old Millie sees her too.  Tom is terrified, convinced something terrible will happen and then Millie disappears. Harry is the new vicar, getting to know the locals and their strange rituals and traditions. He too hears voices, in the church but can’t find anyone there. Evi, a psychiatrist has a new patient, Gillian, unemployed, divorced and alcoholic, who can’t accept that her daughter died in the fire that burnt down her home. The Renshaws own most of the land, old Tobias, his son Sinclair and his two daughters, Jenny and Christiana.

Heptonclough is not a good place for little girls, three have died over the past ten years and Christiana asks Harry to tell the Fletchers to leave:

‘So many little girls’, she said. ‘Tell them to go, Vicar. It’s not safe here. Not for little girls.’ (page 353)

It’s not safe at all for the Fletcher family. I was completely convinced not only by the setting but also by the characterisation that this place and these people were real. It’s full of tension, terror and suspense and I was in several minds before the end as to what it was all about. I had an inkling but I hadn’t realised the full and shocking truth.

An excellent book to read for Carl’s RIP IV Challenge.

10 thoughts on “Blood Harvest by S J Bolton: a Book Review

  1. Margaret – Thanks for the excellent review. I, too, enjoyed S.J. Bolton’s Awakening, and this one sounds just as absorbing. Deliciously creepy!


  2. I love Ms. Bolton’s books, including this one. If you haven’t read her newest – Now You See Me you must! It’s the best ever by her. I had a lot of trouble even thinking about putting it down.


  3. Hi Margaret,

    I know that I am beginning to sound like a cracked record, but I have all of S. J. Bolton’s books in my TBR pile, including the latest one, ‘Now You See Me’.

    My father has read them all and thoroughly enjoyed them, even though he claims that books by female authors are not a patch on those by males! He says that you can always tell a female style of writing, but personally I think that if he didn’t know a book was by a female author, then he would never know the difference!!

    This was a great review and has really made me want to go and fish them off the shelves, but I have a couple of author ARC’s to deal with first.

    Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the recommendation.


  4. great review. I liked this one, too (despite the cover which I found off-putting. not the same cover as your post shows, a red one with old church, graveyard etc).


  5. I agree absolutely, this one is the best of three excellent thrillers. And as a vicar´s wife, I enjoyed the interesting and rounded character Harry (so many vicars in crime literature are weak wimps) 😀


  6. Margot’s comment “deliciously creepy” was exactly my thought. I really must read this author. And in the comments I learned something new about another favorite author, Dorte.


  7. This very book landed in our porch today, courtest of ReadItSwapIt, so I am pleased to read a positive report. I had thought S J Bolton might be too dark for me, but I’ve found that she writes and plots so well that I can’t help being carried along.

    And, while I’m here, I must second the recommendation of Now You See Me.


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