Book Review : Sanctum by Sarah Fine

December 5, 2013 Book review 3 ★★★★★

Warning : I loved this book and was constantly thinking about this world while not reading it.  So beware, there is shameless fangirling ahead!

Book Review : Sanctum by Sarah FineSanctum by Sarah Fine
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #1
Published by Skyscape on 16 Oct 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, YA
Pages: 450
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

“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.(less)

My Recap of Sanctum:

Lela’s best friend has committed suicide and when Lela dreams she is in hell with Nadia.  Despite how frightening hell is when Lela gets a chance to enter Hell, she does so without hesitation in an effort to rescue Nadia.

First line of Sanctum:

“On my first day at Warwick High School, if you’d told me I would choose to go to hell for any of the students, let alone Warwick’s queen bee, I would have laughed.”

My Thoughts on Sanctum:

See that first line up there, from the moment I read that, I just knew this was going to be a great book for me.  Lela is one of the fiercest main characters that I have had the pleasure of reading about.  Her favourite television character is Buffy but I know for sure that in a showdown, Lela would kick Buffy’s ass!   I mean she goes in to Hell voluntarily to find her best friend, now that is true friendship and shows what an insanely brave, faithful person Lela really is.

Lela is a scapper, a fighter, a survivor; she had to be to endure her series of disastrous foster homes.  It has given her a blunt, dangerous edge and she holds back on her feelings.  When she does leave people in though, she will do anything for them and doesn’t think twice about marching into hell to look for Nadia in an attempt to rescue her.

The world building is impressive, so impressive that for days, I felt like I was walking around in a Sanctum fog.  I kept thinking of this book.  Of the images carved so skilfully, that they just got stuck in a loop in my brain.  When something in the real world called my attention, I felt a bit dazed as I was worlds away in this dark, dim City.  To me this felt like purgatory as it is a place it is possible to move on from but wherever it is, it is a place best avoided!

You can have anything you want but nothing will be right.  Your favourite tv?  You can watch it as much as you want but it won’t be the best episodes, it will probably be off focus and there will be a ton of adds.  But worse than all your ‘off’ feeling favourites is that despite the city being overflowing with people, nobody interacts with each other, they are all too self absorbed.  But even WORSE, there are bad guys who can kill you, even though you are dead!  I mean that just sucks!

However as much as I loved Lela and the world building, the icing on top for me was Malachi.  He is the leader of the guards and the first time we meet him, he cuts a person from ear to ear.  Despite that, I knew he was a good one and I was right.  He is more than a good one, he is perfect.  He has an amazing backstory (as do so many of the characters), he is dark and threatening, he is also clever, intuitive and loving.  He is so protective of Lela and the chemistry between them was sizzling.

So often with a book like this, especially in a series, the ending can be a disappointing cliffhanger.  However fear not, Sanctum passes this test too with flying colours.  There is a definite hook but it is a very satisfactory ending with everything tied up nicely for now.  Happy sigh, finally a book that delivers on all fronts.

Thanks to all the GWB’s gang for making me read this book!  Especially Tonya at Lilybloombooks, Danielle at What Danielle Did Next , and Wendy at Book Scents who kept telling me how good it was; you were right!


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: five-stars

Who should read Sanctum?

Everyone that is looking for a YA book that is original and groundbreaking.  And as a bonus you get great characters and impressive worldbuilding.  What are you waiting for, go, go!


Never miss a bookish post! Plus you get a free download - Note to Book - to document your own bookish thoughts.

Signup now and receive blog posts by email.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

3 Responses to “Book Review : Sanctum by Sarah Fine”

  1. Amanda Horan

    Wow this was a hit on all fronts! I know what you mean about books in a series ending on a huge cliffhanger. It gets a bit tiresome so it’s nice to see something different!

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.