Book Review: Sanctum

|+|Triggers: mental illness, torture,  serial murders, unreality|+|


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Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: Mature YA Horror

Summary: Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it’s here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.

Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.

My Opinion:  Roux has a way of writing horror and suspense that makes you believe it despite how other-worldly her stories are.  It’s what I loved about Asylum and she really upped her game in Sanctum. Not gonna lie, this book was brutal. Hard hitting emotions, that looming and lurking shadow of dread that built from page one, and those spiderweb threads of the plot and mystery connecting in unusual ways really made this book worth the read although it wasn’t an easy read. This book did things to me and it was almost perfect so I gave it 4.5 stars.

I read the Asylum novella The Scarlets before I read Sanctum and while I wouldn’t have missed anything if I had chosen to wait on reading it, I did get a lot more out of the book because of it. Little things from both Asylum and The Scarlets made their way into Sanctum and really added to the drama and mystery. What I love about this series is that everything is necessary. I never felt like I was getting an info dump, and any information I did get was incredibly interesting and moved the plot forward.

Sanctum surprised me in a few ways. I was expecting more physical horror like I had gotten in Asylum, but this book took horror to a more internal level. I am all for that. I love a good horror story that focuses on the mind. We’re dragged much deeper into Dan’s mind, but also the Warden’s. This is where the book gets brutal. While Asylum covered the monstrosities that many mental institutions of the time partook in, this went deeper and showed a new aspect of the depravity. Not gonna lie, there was one part that made me set the book down and take a break because I thought I would throw up. Which acts both as a warning and as praise, if Asylum was dark, Sanctum is darker, and Roux has the incredible ability to make those horrors believable and strike directly at the emotions of the reader (in this case, me).

The first book focused on what one person could do, Sanctum focused on what many people could do. There were some generic horror tropes in this, but the way they were used was so well done that I didn’t really mind. In fact I was kind of surprised that someone could do that with what has become seemingly boring. I was terrified in certain parts because Sanctum made me believe that on some level it could happen.

And that makes one hell of a book. If you read Asylum, you really should read Sanctum. It’s well, well worth it.

TL;DR: While Asylum focused on more physical aspects of horror, Sanctum took a trip into the mind and delivered some brutal surprises. Asylum had set the bar insanely high for the rest of the series, and to my surprise and delight Sanctum met and surpassed those expectations. Even though some generic horror tropes were used, they were used in such a way that felt unique and organic. The mood was dark yet left room for hope, and the pace was spot on. If you’ve read Asylum and enjoyed it on any level there is no reason for you not to read Sanctum.



2 thoughts on “Book Review: Sanctum

    • Thank you! If you read it I’d love to hear your take on it. Sanctum sealed (and increased) my love for the series! I hope it does the same for you. 🙂


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