Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

24891517Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: September 29th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Synopsis from Goodreads:

After the untimely death of her aunt, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old 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 and sister who died there, of her mother who was torn away from her and sent to an asylum, and of the vengeful spirit of a woman wronged. Flooding memories leave Cecilia 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 a tragic past and a haunted present?

Luminous and evocative, Sanctuary is a remarkable exploration of love and loss—and the ghosts that come back to haunt us.

my rambles

Special thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Sanctuary landed on my doorstep unsolicited, so prior to opening the package, I’d never heard of it before. I’m really happy it came into my possession though, because I quite enjoyed this book!

Very eerie, Sanctuary is one of the few Gothic YA books I’ve read. There are ghosts, and old mansion with an intriguing past, a creepy psychologist and asylum, and lots of family secrets. Sounds good, right? And it is! Not only were the elements Gothic-influenced, but the writing was beautiful. It added to the creepiness of the story and transported me back in time to both the current events of the book, and the flashbacks.

Sometimes books of this genre tend to drag in parts (for example I’m currently rereading Jane Eyre for my Lit class, and some parts are indeed slow). But for me, Sanctuary was well paced, and entertaining to the very, very end. The one foible I have with this book is that I found the chapters to have kind of abrupt endings. This won’t be a problem for someone picking up and putting down the book often, but as someone who read this in large chunks at a time, it was something I noticed. I would have liked it if the chapters flowed more, but that’s just my personal preference.

The mystery involved an interesting melding of history and paranormal. There was talk of witches, the history of Acadians from Nova Scotia, and the inclusion of ghosts, possession, and spirits. I liked how the book had lots of detail, but at times I got a bit confused. There’s also a lot of family relations that are talked about over generations, which was sometime difficult for me to follow. Much like I felt for the abrupt chapter endings, this didn’t really affect my overall liking of the book, though.

There is a bit of romance, because what’s a YA book without romance these days, right?! I liked it, and I thought it was sweet, but a bit rushed. I did root for the pair of Liza and Eli from the beginning though. I like myself a young, hot, intelligent guy!

So all in all, I found Sanctuary to be an entertaining historical-gothic-paranormal book! I really enjoyed the lush writing that took me back in time, and the focus on a group and location in history that I wasn’t familiar with. Both historical fiction and ghost-loving fans will find something they’ll enjoy in Sanctuary!



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