Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

“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.

True confession: I had never even heard of this book. And I saw a two star review of it on goodreads which, for some reason (?), had me intrigued.  I downloaded the sample onto my kindle, and at the end of the sample I clicked the buy-now-and-continue-reading-thingy. I am still baffled at myself. I don't even read this genre, guys (me? Urban fantasy?).

I know nothing about this genre, so it's not like I can compare, all I know is this: I was drawn into this world and spent most the day finding excuses to sneak up to my bedroom and knock off a few more chapters. I read it in under 24 hours and so completely enjoyed myself.

It's hard for me to differentiate between whether this was a good book or just a good reading experience. Does that make sense? At the time, it was so compelling and unusual and swoony and different and just so unexpected. Anyway, I am a fan of a good reading experience and am still stunned at how much I got caught up in this book (sometimes I know I am reading a good book, but the reading experience is just not doing anything for me, so I much prefer a good experience, you know?).

Sanctum is dark. It is set in a kind of Hell-place (you can tell I am out of my depth talking urban fantasy, haha) and so many scenes are vivid in this horrific, scary-intriguing, can't-look-away-way. It's imaginative and compelling. You would think a setting like this would not be the nicest head space to crawl into. Not so. It was strangely fun, like I was inside my own lucid dream, where things felt real but were just horribly, squirmishly wrong. 

Alongside this creative and fully-fleshed out world, Sarah Fine created this kick-arse crew of characters. Complete with mysterious (and ultimately heart-breaking) back stories. I am all about characters, always. It's characters who sell me on a book and in Sanctum I was sold. Lela is tough but relatable, she's unbelievably determined and has just the perfect, tiny amount of sweetness (hidden away in a lovely vulnerable way. And Malachi. OKAY. He is probably the kind of stuff urban fantasy male leads are made of: hot (given), tough and capable (in that warrior way, muscles and kickarse fighting and all that), hard and intimidating (at first...) sensitive and so absolutely vulnerable (okay, secretly, but those hints of vulnerability add to his appeal). These two have chemistry and just LOADS of appeal. People who liked to get carried away and swoon while reading, will be able to swoon away in this book ;)

Sanctum is not the book you think it is. I finished it and even then was like, woah, what did I just read? I am a still a little stunned at the way I gobbled it up, and I am recommending it to people who are in the mood for something different. And to people who don't mind being taken on a strange, and at times dark, journey alongside two beaten down, but still fighting, characters (what a sentence  heh). I'll be reading the next one (the ending of this had an awesome twist, so much so that now I have no idea what to even expect of number two...)      

Does this review even make sense? I am flummoxed. 

This books is shelved as: unexpectedly liked. what did I even just read? swoon. page-flipping frenzy. 

 Sanctum on goodreads


  1. "It's hard for me to differentiate between whether this was a good book or just a good reading experience." Good point. You've got me thinking about this now. And especially for us frequent readers and reviewers, how do we differentiate between the two when it's likely that we'll only read a book once in our lives, there being too many books out there to waste time on rereading mediocre duds? Don't most reviewers review books based on their first reading experience? Can we even separate the two concepts?

    Okay, I'll stop rambling now. But I appreciate you making the point. :)

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  3. The premise of this makes me laugh. It sounds like something I wouldn't pick up withoutat last one racing review from someone I know and like. I guess I can't judge it now. :) It sounds fun. Even if it's not a great book per se, I'm always up for a great reading experience. Who wouldn't? Thanks for the review, Nomes. It always makes me happy to see you over here.

    1. Forgive my typos. (The drawback of commenting on my phone.)

  4. Ooh, I read this one a couple weeks ago (ish? whatever, not too long ago, anyway)... and I really enjoyed it! Based on the description it wouldn't necessarily be my thing, but people talking about it on twitter made me want to pick it up. I loved the characters, and I thought the world building was pretty fantastic. I'll definitely be reading book 2 as well, whenever it comes out.

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  6. I have heard of this, I think, but heard of it in a way that I haven't really taken much notice of it, which sounds horrid in that sentence.
    Though I don't think it would be a book I would take to, I really wanted to say that I just loved reading your review for it. Reading one of your reviews I always can be assured that awesomeness and amusement (in the best way) will follow. Loved it!

  7. I actually really do think it's a good book, mostly because Sarah dared to explore abuse in such a way, and she took it pretty far.
    It wasn't what I'd expected either, but it was better.
    I'm very excited about book 2! Amazon Children's refuses to send arcs overseas, but Sarah promised me she'd send me one herself and I've been on pins and needles ever since.
    Fantastic review!

  8. Oh that sounds good. Now I read so many blogs and order my books online, I kind of miss discovering new books all on my own. Maybe I need to plan a solo trip to the bookstore and just browse. Or maybe I need to check out some 2 stars reviews :D Glad you enjoyed it.


Thanks for the commenty love :)