Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Sanctum by Sarah Fine

Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)

Title:  Sanctum 

Author: Sarah Fine
Marshall Cavendish Children's/Amazon Children's Publishing
Publishing Date: October 16th 2012
Pages: 433
Genre:  YA Contemporary Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #1
Source: Audio


“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 have to admit, I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked this book up on audio. I knew a blogger friend had read it and loved it and I wanted to give it a try. It was nothing like I expected and I loved it. It was a great story about friendship, love, loyalty, and so much more. The relationships in this book are really what gave the book the oomph for me. The world building was pretty amazing too, and the writing was beautiful, the story was just… oh my goodness… so awesome!

Lela (love her name!) has had a pretty hard life in and out of foster homes. She has a hard time allowing people to be close to her. She was attacked in her past and she has never overcome the feeling that attack left lingering inside her. She’s finally moved to a pretty good foster home and actually makes a friend, a best friend. Right before graduation, tragedy hits her life, then an accident, and everything falls apart. Her best friend is in Suicide City and Lela makes the decision to go after her, to save her, and take her to a much better place. Along the way she meets Malachi, a guard in the city. Another human like her and he is determined to get her out of the city and take her to the countryside… Lela says no and makes a journey across the city to find Nadia.

I had some reservations when I started this book. I am not really big on books about Hell or anything like it. Its personal with me… my thoughts on Heaven and Hell and I don’t like to mix those in with my fantasy worlds. So I was a little weary but decided to give it a try and I am really glad I did. The further into the book I went the more I got into the story and the more I liked the story. The author did a wonderful job of creating a fantasy world where it isn’t really Heaven or Hell, just a place to deal with your issues before moving on to a better place. Suicide City was a place to wrestle with one’s personal demons. In order to move to the country side, one must be at peace with their previous lives and choices. They must learn to deal with what drove them to suicide. There is so much more to this story too. The friendship and loyalty that Lela has for Nadia just amazed me, and of course there is romance. Romance always makes me happy.

The world the author created was quite unique. A city full of misery, darkness, sadness, and suffering for those who couldn’t deal with life and took it upon themselves to end it. they really can’t get out of things that easily. They enter the city, still human but dead and they still live their life miserable, afraid, depressed. They can have anything they want but not enough of it to do what they need it to do. They can watch their favorite TV shows over and over, but the television will never show they favorite episodes. So funny. Anyways, the effect of the city was for sure real and alive within the words of the story. I was lost within the walls myself.
The characters were all just so amazing too. Lela is tough, really she is too tough. She doesn’t let anyone in. She allowed herself to love one person, Nadia, but still never allowed Nadia all the way into her life. Then she lost Nadia and realized her mistake. Her love, gratefulness, and loyalty for Nadia drives her straight to Suicide City to save her best friend and their inside the city walls, she allowed someone else in…. Malachi. Malachi is just amazing. He himself was trapped inside Suicide City and waiting for his chance to get out. He has been there for decades and has suffered much. He puts everything on hold for Lela and her journey. Malachi and Lela are much the same… loyal, determined, a fighter, and closed off, but they were able to allow the other in. Their love story was so powerful and intense, real. I also fell in love.

The only thing that drove my rating down just a bit was the pacing. Most of the book was great, action packed and fast paced, but there were just a few parts that slowed down too much for me. I found a few times I lost my focus and had to rewind a bit to find out where I was. It wasn’t too many times, not enough to keep me from loving the story but enough to drive me a bit crazy.

A great read and I can’t wait to for the next installment . The ending was just one of those endings that made me want to pull my hair and now I NEED more!


  1. Interesting premise! Glad to read that you enjoyed. I found the punishment of never seeing your favorite episodes funny too! I wonder what happens if you decide to have a new favorite episode. :D Great review!

  2. I have this one on my kindle and I can't wait to read it, I have read a couple of great reviews of it and I am definitely ready to dive in and see what this book is like. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  3. Sooo glad you enjoyed it. I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started it either, but I ended up loving it. I can't wait for the sequel!!!


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