Sanctum by Sarah Fine
Book Review by Amy Pan
Riveting and enticing, Sanctum blended both despair and hope to deliver a hauntingly beautiful story. This book is just what readers need to break the monotony of the endless, repetitive parades of vampires, werewolves, and all other overdone aspects of the fantasy genre. It was so refreshing to read about a distinct story set in a world that no author has claimed.
To begin with, Lela was a fantastic main character. Strong and charismatic yet sensitive and damaged, she gave up eternal happiness to literally travel through hell, not knowing whether or not she would return alive. Sometimes she was slightly foolish and too self-sacrificing for belief, but no character is perfect, and her strong-willed determination and independence certainly made up for the flaws. Lela made several incredibly difficult decisions that had me in awe. Not only is Sanctum about friendship and sacrifice, it’s about love and overcoming possessive fears bit by bit. This novel brought up numerous emotional subjects and there were many macabre moments, but hope and faith still managed to fill every chapter. It was replete with deep and profound messages about life, death, loss and love. Countless passages made me simply pause and contemplate for a moment.
This does not mean that Sanctum was without fault, as I often struggled with the world-building. On one hand I felt like too much information was being thrown at me. Meanwhile on the other hand, I kept worrying that I’d somehow missed out a vital piece of information. If the pacing had been more even, I undoubtedly would have been less confused about some of the functions of the city as well as the different races and positions.
With that being said, Sarah Fine’s brilliantly imagined world is an eye-opening take on the afterlife. There was never a dull moment while reading this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While Sanctum explored some remarkably dark themes and allowed readers to view and understand suicide like never before, the dialogue in this novel is sharp and witty, the character relationships are vivid and lively, the romance is sweet and promising, and Lela’s voice is exceptionally fun to read. Even now I am still haunted by the unique and stimulating thoughts that Sanctum instilled deep into my brain. Imaginative, ominous, and frightening, this is a must-read for fans of Vampire Academy; fantasies, and deep, thought-provoking novels in general.