Sanctum by Sarah Fine
Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 433 pages
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Release date: October 16, 2012
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #1
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Lili
"My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple."
A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos's best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn't just anyone – she's determined to save her best friend's soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.
As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she's captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city's endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn't – the dark city isn't the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.
I’m struggling to write a review for this book because I loved it so much. Completely unexpectedly, this is a journey full of hope, darkness, despair, and redemption that’ll make your heart beat ten times faster than usual. Seriously, I may have hyperventilated out of both anxiety and eagerness several times as I read because my eyes couldn’t read the words fast enough.
The world building in this book was one of many things that completely blew my mind. This book essentially takes place in a re-imagined Hell, except it’s not exactly Hell and more like a bad afterlife. This dreary place is the place that people who commit suicide go. They enter the Suicide Gates and they do not leave the Shadowlands until they have learned their lesson and are no longer hung up on their suicide. Then, they can be judged and go to a better place where they can have a happy afterlife instead of being stuck in the eternal rut that every citizen of the Shadowlands eventually finds themselves in. Lela went to this place to save her best friend, Nadia, who she wholeheartedly believes deserves to be happy because she was her rock that just temporarily went down a bad path. Thus, we meet a self-sacrificing, strong, determined heroine that kids can look up to because she took all of her negative experiences and somehow found a way to turn them into positive personality traits.
As dark as this story seems, this is one powerful read that cannot be ignored. Sarah’s incredible writing style and world building led the way for phenomenal characterization and character growth throughout the novel. Both Lela and Malachi are two of my favorite characters that I have ever come across. Though both have somewhat disturbing backgrounds, they have used their experiences to strengthen their resolve and personalities. Both Lela and Malachi are broken souls that somehow manage to piece each other back together again in a slow burning, heart stopping, action packed romance that’ll leave you yearning for more. They are each other’s lights at the end of the tunnel, each other’s saving grace, and they’ll melt your heart as you watch their romance slowly progress in a manner that is most definitely believable.
With all of the sheer amazingness of this dark and gritty world, it is obvious that this book will not be for everyone. Those who are uncomfortable when dealing with heavy subjects such as suicide should not read this book. But, with that being said, I feel compelled to point out that someone close to my heart was once suicidal and I did not find this book overdone or disrespectful in the least. While suicide is a large part of the story, it does not glorify it or mention it in disturbing manners. It is part of the plot, it’s always in the back of your mind, but it’s not in your face and it’s never rude in the way it addresses the subject. Such a thing is something that I highly respect because it’s not easy to come across in young adult literature these days. I also want to mention that there is some violence because there are plenty of fight scenes against an evil force invading the Shadowlands and there are slight mentions of sexual abuse. No abuse is detailed, but it is hinted at in reference to Lela’s previous foster father. Clearly, this is not a book for younger teenagers, but anyone that is mature can read this book without any problems.
Full of rich detail, an explosive romance, and amazing detail for this gritty, dark world, this book is a much read for any fantasy lover that is looking for something new. Tackling big subjects in a respectable manner, it’ll make you ride an emotional roller coaster that you’ll never want to get off of. This book will forever have a place on my favorites shelf and comes as a high recommendation to those willing to take it on. Among my most anticipated sequels, I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the Guards of the Shadowlands series to see what Sarah has in store for Malachi and Lela (and us) next.
Authors on the web is offering up one (1) copy of SANCTUM to one lucky winner in the US! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.
Must be 13 years or older.
Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!
Ends on October 25, 2012.