Sanctum by Sarah Fine

Publisher: Amazon Publishing, 2012

Format: Paper!

Reviewed by: Ellen

Trust me: just give it 50 pages.

Plot:  Lela Santos hasn’t exactly had an easy life and a few years before the book begins decided to commit suicide. Although she was found by her (dickhead) foster father and revived, since that time Lela has been having dreams of a walled city and the people within. When Lela’s bff Nadia commits suicide these dreams become even more vivid as Lela realizes that not only is Nadia in the city but she’s in jeopardy from scary beings which prey on people in the city. After a particularly horrendous dream, Lela goes to the Cliff Walk (Nadia’s favorite place in RI) and slips, falling to her death. When she awakens outside of the city she knows she needs to make her way in, find Nadia, and do whatever she can to protect her friend. What she didn’t plan on was how challenging the city is, the true evil of the scary creatures (Mazikin), or falling in love with Malachi, the sexy head of the guard who protect citizens of the city from the Mazikin.

Review: While I think the fact that I named this book one of my top 3 of the year speaks for itself, you guys probably want more. Well how about this: in (almost) 9 years of arguing/yelling/recommending/fighting/squeeing and having way too many conversations about books there is one thing that had never happened in my friendship with Judith: I’d never demanded she read a book. And I’d certainly never said “if you don’t give this a chance and read the first 50 pages then our friendship could be over. If you quit after those 50 pages I’ll respect that but you MUST give it a shot”. Until now.

I’m not going to lie, this book isn’t perfect — but then nothing is (except Dean Winchester). The ending is a little too convenient, the characters drove me a bit batty at times, and I really don’t want to even think about the Dante-esque theory on what happens when someone takes their own life. But there are several major reasons why I completely fell in love with this book:

1)       Originality. All too often Judith and I will start conversing about a book only to realize that we’re actually talking about two different books with exactly the same plot. Not the case with this one. The plot was so original that it immediately stood out from the normal YA novels I read. In a completely awesome way.

2)      The prose. Without overstating the situation I have to admit that the last novel I read which had such a vivid writing style was one of my favorite books ever: The Poisonwood Bible. When you’re writing such an original story you need to have the ability to fully paint a picture for your readers with enough detail to make it come alive without completely boring them, and that’s exactly what the author did. Amazing. I can’t even tell you the number of times I had chills or was just sitting on my couch with a huge grin on my face because of the story.

3)      The characters. Let’s be honest – loving YA fiction means reading a lot of stories about teenagers and their often irrational responses to situations. Originally when I thought about a bunch of teenagers (who form the core of the novel but not the only people in the walled city) who have committed suicide I really expected it would be overreactions to small things in their lives. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Oh Malachi – you break my heart.

In the end I’m going to give this one a 10 out of 10.   

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 10. This girl is beyond kick ass and I could only hope to be as good a friend as she is. She’s strong enough to move on and succeed in school despite her past, she’s loyal, she hasn’t gone completely insane despite the crazypants dreams she has, and damn but can she kick ass. At times she’s a bit too naïve and insane for expecting everyone to behave like she does, but it’s part of what makes her so endearing. Also I love that it’s not like she’s always waiting for Malachi to save her – she saves him just as much.

How much did I like the love interest: 10. Holy crapsticks. He’s hot, he’s got a tortured past, he’s a total warrior, he supports Lela’s mission to help her friend. Malachi is the shiznit. I can’t even think about his backstory without wanting to cry and when he explains how he became captain of the guard and how he ended up in the walled city – oh man.

How believable is the plot:  10. Shockingly enough I don’t actually know what happens when you die so I’m not going to take any points away. What I do know is that this fictional world created by the author was vivid and completely believable.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Amazing writing. AMAZING. No editing issues at all.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10. I literally shushed someone when they tried to talk to me while I was reading. And there might have been a “please stop bothering me” hand motion along with it.  

Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 3. Are you kidding me? A book about what happens after suicide and then you put Malachi’s story on top of it all? Get me a drink just thinking about it. 

Final Score: 10/10. Seriously: if you’ve ever agreed with a single thing I’ve written on this blog please give this a chance. Just 50 pages. And then let me know what you think.

****Disclaimer: I got this book for free from the author. I swear I didn’t bribe her in any way, or get paid for my review. And we might not be legit enough to need this disclaimer but after working at a law firm for many years it’s better safe than sorry!****


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2 thoughts on “Sanctum by Sarah Fine

  1. I bought this book as soon as I finished reading your review. I am really looking forward to it! I couldn’t read a review like that and not buy it!

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