Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Review: SANCTUARY by Jennifer McKissack

Jennifer McKissack
Scholastic, Inc.
12 - 17 years

After the untimely death of her aunt Laura, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old French-Gothic mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she's also haunted by the ghosts of her past -- of her father who died at Sanctuary five years ago, and of her mother who was committed soon after. The memories leave Cecilia feeling shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary's library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her -- even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace with her haunted, tragic past?


I read SANCTUARY in a week. It was billed by McKissack's agent as being in the tradition of Daphne du Marier's REBECCA. I like gothic tales, and REBECCA was one of my favorite books in high school, so I picked up SANCTUARY.

It has all the elements needed for a good ghost story: a haunted house, a creepy cemetery, an isolated island, unexplained deaths, romance, insanity, and of course, a ghost.

While I wouldn't say SANCTUARY is all that distinctive, I did enjoy it very much. The main character was plucky and courageous and her romantic interest (almost a little too) perfectly romantic. While the ending came too abruptly for me, I felt compelled to keep turning pages, curiosity driving me onward. The story took kind of an odd, unexpected turn near the end, but it worked.

Overall, SANCTUARY is a perfect Halloween read.

Other books in this genre that I've enjoyed include:

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson (arguably the best haunted house book ever!)
THE SHINING by Stephen King
SLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell
ASYLUM by Madeleine Roux
HYSTERIA by Megan Miranda


Sexuality: Mild
Profanity: None
Violence: Moderate

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