Adult Books, Fiction Books

Sanctuary By V.V. James – ARC Review

Thank you to Gollancz and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I really loved the Dark Gifts trilogy so when I heard about this book I so excited to read it! And I really loved this book too!

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Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.
Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.
Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?
As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

This book had me hooked from the beginning and on the edge of my seat. I was up reading late into the night because I just needed to read one more chapter. It has a dark and foreboding atmosphere and it only gets darker as the story progresses. By the end it was pretty terrifying. Not in the horror sense but what happens in the story and just how eerily close it was to reality. I could see this happening in real life.

The story focuses on the lives of Sarah and Abigail, whose point of view we read, and their friends and children. We also get the point of view of Maggie who is the detective assigned to the case of Abigail’s son, Daniel, death. Sarah is a witch, in fact the only witch in her town, her daughter Harper, not having inherited her abilities. Abigail is one of Sarah’s closest friends and part of her coven. Yet when they find out about Daniel’s death, friendships are tested and nothing will ever be the same again between them.

Things quickly unravel and escalate and soon it has become a witch hunt and reading how things escalated so quickly was absolutely terrifying yet I couldn’t look away.
As the story progresses we realise that nothing is as black and white as it seems, everyone has secrets and these secrets threaten to turn all their lives upside down. The characters are complex and the more we learn about them the more we see how they aren’t entirely good. How they betray each other to save their own selves and the effect that grief has on each of them and how it changes them.

This book shows what can happen when people fear what they don’t understand. There’s mass hysteria, mob mentality which leads to hate crimes and violence. From Sarah’s point of view we see what it feels like to be different from everyone around you and never truly fit in but that people tolerate your presence as it also benefits them yet when something happens people instantly turn on you. We also see how it affects Harper, Sarah’s daughter, in school and how she resorts to going to a different town to feel safe and be around people who accept her.

Throughout the story we also see the characters teenage children and how their lives all intertwine, through them we see how awful victim blaming is, how when a woman is sexually assaulted it is so traumatic, yet the people who should protect her and support her blame her for what happens. Consent is also discussed and how prejudice and discrimination can affect those subjected to it. The fact that Daniel is a jock and popular means he is blameless and excuses are made for him despite evidence of his crimes being shown to Abigail. She still manages to blame someone else for it. I really loved how all of this was woven into the story, we see the effects of all of this and by the end the result is frightening.

I really loved this book, and if you love dark suspenseful stories then you will love this. The story is captivating and will keep you reading late into the night.