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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sanctum by Sarah Fine + Giveaway

Sanctum by Sarah Fine

Book stats:
Reading level: Young Adult
ARC: 433 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Release date: October 16, 2012

Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #1

Source: Review copy from publisher

Reviewed by: Lili

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

"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’m struggling to write a review for this book because I loved it so much. Completely unexpectedly, this is a journey full of hope, darkness, despair, and redemption that’ll make your heart beat ten times faster than usual. Seriously, I may have hyperventilated out of both anxiety and eagerness several times as I read because my eyes couldn’t read the words fast enough.

The world building in this book was one of many things that completely blew my mind. This book essentially takes place in a re-imagined Hell, except it’s not exactly Hell and more like a bad afterlife. This dreary place is the place that people who commit suicide go. They enter the Suicide Gates and they do not leave the Shadowlands until they have learned their lesson and are no longer hung up on their suicide. Then, they can be judged and go to a better place where they can have a happy afterlife instead of being stuck in the eternal rut that every citizen of the Shadowlands eventually finds themselves in. Lela went to this place to save her best friend, Nadia, who she wholeheartedly believes deserves to be happy because she was her rock that just temporarily went down a bad path. Thus, we meet a self-sacrificing, strong, determined heroine that kids can look up to because she took all of her negative experiences and somehow found a way to turn them into positive personality traits.

As dark as this story seems, this is one powerful read that cannot be ignored. Sarah’s incredible writing style and world building led the way for phenomenal characterization and character growth throughout the novel. Both Lela and Malachi are two of my favorite characters that I have ever come across. Though both have somewhat disturbing backgrounds, they have used their experiences to strengthen their resolve and personalities. Both Lela and Malachi are broken souls that somehow manage to piece each other back together again in a slow burning, heart stopping, action packed romance that’ll leave you yearning for more. They are each other’s lights at the end of the tunnel, each other’s saving grace, and they’ll melt your heart as you watch their romance slowly progress in a manner that is most definitely believable.

With all of the sheer amazingness of this dark and gritty world, it is obvious that this book will not be for everyone. Those who are uncomfortable when dealing with heavy subjects such as suicide should not read this book. But, with that being said, I feel compelled to point out that someone close to my heart was once suicidal and I did not find this book overdone or disrespectful in the least. While suicide is a large part of the story, it does not glorify it or mention it in disturbing manners. It is part of the plot, it’s always in the back of your mind, but it’s not in your face and it’s never rude in the way it addresses the subject. Such a thing is something that I highly respect because it’s not easy to come across in young adult literature these days. I also want to mention that there is some violence because there are plenty of fight scenes against an evil force invading the Shadowlands and there are slight mentions of sexual abuse. No abuse is detailed, but it is hinted at in reference to Lela’s previous foster father. Clearly, this is not a book for younger teenagers, but anyone that is mature can read this book without any problems.

Full of rich detail, an explosive romance, and amazing detail for this gritty, dark world, this book is a much read for any fantasy lover that is looking for something new. Tackling big subjects in a respectable manner, it’ll make you ride an emotional roller coaster that you’ll never want to get off of. This book will forever have a place on my favorites shelf and comes as a high recommendation to those willing to take it on. Among my most anticipated sequels, I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the Guards of the Shadowlands series to see what Sarah has in store for Malachi and Lela (and us) next.

Authors on the web is offering up one (1) copy of SANCTUM to one lucky winner in the US! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

Must be 13 years or older.

Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

Ends on October 25, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I'm a 18 year old from a small town in New Jersey that's a newcomer to the book blogging world. Because I am an incoming senior in high school the closest thing that I have to a job is being a volunteer at the town library, so I spend most of my time reading and persuading my parents to let me buy more books!

Follow Lili on: Lili's Reflections | Twitter

17 People left their mark' :

  1. The blurb didn't really catch my interest at first, but after reading your review, it does sound very unique. I think this might be the first I've heard of this. I will be adding it to my my TBR read list now.

  2. I'm with Jessy. The blurb is so-so but your review makes it a "must pick up"

  3. I added this one to my wish list yesterday. Thanks for the great review. I'm looking forward to reading it!

  4. thanks for a great post and giveaway! Definitely adding this book to my wishlist :)

  5. I love the cover of this book, how the girl looks down upon the cover.
    The blurb is captivating, and I think that it is a very original idea to "imagine" that people who commit suicide go to the "suicide gates".
    It's just PURE creativity of the author that shows through your review.
    GREAT review, Lili
    Your constant reader,

  6. SANCTUM sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it.

    I already follow Sarah on twitter and blogger and she is fabulous. Congrats, Sarah! I'm sure I'll love SANCTUM just as much as Lili does :)

  7. I thought it was a fair and honest review. Thanks.

  8. I'm so excited for this book! I'm really interested with the plot.

  9. What an awesome review! It's obvious you really connected with the characters, and I love how they're flawed but they find hope in their love for each other.

    This is a very unique setting, and I'm glad suicide was treated respectfully.

    I like darker topics, so this is awesome:)

    Thank you:)

  10. Great review! I've been interested in this one. Thanks for the awesome post and giveaway :)

  11. The review and blurb make me really want to read this. I'm adding to goodreads.

  12. There is nothing better than a book that leaves you speechless! Great post and thank you for the giveaway.

  13. That initial reaction of not knowing how to put how much you loved and enjoyed a book is something I've dealt with numerous times. For whatever reason it is a lot easier to criticize a piece you aren't happy with, you can easily point out flaws, but when you review something you loved all you want to do is gush over it. Great post and thank you for the giveaway!

  14. Always on the look out for well-done gritty stories. Great review!

  15. This is definitely going on my *must-have* list!! I love dark, gritty tales and Sanctum (per your great review) sounds amazing! <3
    Plus, that cover is just too gorgeous!!!
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

  16. Great review. The book sounds interesting.

  17. Thanks for the great review and the giveaway!