I saw that The Sanctuary was doing quite well in the ‘best-seller’ charts recently and so decided, after having kindly been sent it by Viper Books last year, that I’d pick up the early copy they’d sent across to me. The premise was an interesting one – it’s about a man whose fiancé goes off to work on this project on an island with a billionaire and then decides to potentially call off their engagement because something on the island is telling her she should stay and focus on that. Therefore, he must go and find her and convince her to come back home with him.
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As I wrote above, the premise for The Sanctuary is a really interesting one. When picking it up, I loved the idea of jumping into a book where our protagonist is off to an island to try and uncover a conspiracy theory. What interested me more was that Andrew Hunter Murray, the author, was one of the writers for QI too, so it was clearly going to have some wit and intelligence to it too. But did it live up to my hopes?
The Sanctuary plot – 4/5
Ben, a young painter is happily traveling around painting portraits of rich people for not much money. However, when his fiance who he’s not seen for quite some time in person because she’s been away on a job on a remote island tells him that she wants to focus on her job and not them, he begins to consider that everything isn’t all as it seems and wants to try and visit her in a hope that seeing his face will bring her back.
After a fairly turbulent journey to get to the island, he’s fairly warmly greeted and quickly introduced to the genius billionaire who runs the place – essentially his fiance’s boss. However, there’s no sign of his fiance but he is repetitively told she will be back very soon.
Ben is very sceptical about this billionaire genius but slowly starts to see why everybody that meets him ends up loving him and believing in his ideal.
The whole plot of The Sanctuary is constantly mysterious but never really felt like it got going. There’s a finale at the end which is quite epic and would look good in a film, but other than this, it felt like the big reveal was held out far too long with not enough drip-feeding in between.
I will admit though that there’s quite an interesting twist at the end which explains quite a lot and also the writing is brilliantly done. It’s eerie and creepy which is exactly what this whole book is, really.
The Sanctuary characters – 3.75/5
The characters in The Sanctuary are very bang average. Our main protagonist Ben is fairly dull and doesn’t really express any other personality traits that suspicion throughout most of the book. There are some decent moments where it covers how he and his partner Clara ended up actually falling in love and some highlights of their relationship which is a saving grace to an otherwise fairly dull relationship.
Our supposed bad guy is quite interesting though. He’s clearly got some psychopathic elements to him, switching between a very positive and a very negative demeanour quite quickly depending on what’s being spoken about.
Murray tries to implement a broken father/daughter relationship here but at no point did I ever really care about the daughter enough to feel sorry for her. She didn’t ever really express that she wanted to be close with her father and so I wasn’t that fussed when things never improved. Maybe that’s just me!
The Sanctuary final rating – 4/5
The Sanctuary had a plot that will likely keep you gripped until the very last page, only if it’s to essentially leave you feeling a little underwhelmed. The fantastic writing, epic ending and intriguing twist at the end do make up for generally a very slow-paced first 2/3 of the book. The characters aren’t that worth getting excited about either but the villain is fairly interesting and may be my favourite character just because he brought in some actual personality to an otherwise fairly uninteresting cast.