Book Review: Sanctum

(Guardians of the Shadowlands #1)
By:  Sarah Fine
Published By:  Amazon Children's Publishing
Publication Date: October 16th, 2012
Page Count:  433 pages
Source:  Book Purchased by Reviewer
Audience:  Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy 

I can easily tell you why I loved Sanctum so much – Sarah Fine’s writing reminds me of another of my favourite authors, Julie Kagawa.  Both paint pictures with their words…both insert TONS of adventure into their respective stories…both make their books hard to put down…both have unique worlds they have created…both have kick-ass and self-sacrificing heroines…and both have swoon-worthy objects of desire that make me swoon right along with them.

But don’t get me wrong…their respective worlds do not resemble each other.  Sarah Fine’s world is original in its own right.   And despite the subject matter being a little heavy, the ideas for this story were fresh and far from being another cookie-cutter young adult story.  Sanctum was completely engaging and definitely lived up to the hype surrounding its debut!

The characterization was simply amazing and well developed.  I got a full sense of who each of these people were by the end of the story.  That’s not to say they were perfect…they still made some impulsive decisions and some shaky judgement calls but they felt real.

Lela Santos is a force to be reckoned with, let me tell you.  She has been through a lot in her young life but that made her all the stronger for it.  Lela didn’t really know what it was like to have friends because she was viewed as damaged and dangerous to outsiders (and seriously misunderstood).  She had a reputation that preceeded her…she was trouble.  But after sticking up for one of the popular girls at school, an unexpected friendship developed…and best friends they became.

However, Lela’s seemingly perfect best friend Nadia had problems that she did her best to hide from everyone.  She put on a face that charmed all her friends…including Lela.  And when Nadia did the unthinkable, Lela was determined to find the answers and understand why…which inadvertently led her to her ultimate mission of ‘saving Nadia’…because Lela had a supernatural understanding of where Nadia ended up.

To say that Lela was tenacious in her quest to help Nadia would be a serious understatement.  She literally saw no boundaries to where she had to go and what she had to do.  Her determination, however, did not fit with where she ended up and despite trying to meld into the collective, she stood out like a neon sign…and inevitably caught the eye of one very handsome guard captain…Malachi.

Ooooooohhhhhhh Malachi.  Can a character be both gentle and deadly rolled into one incredibly hot man?  Youuuuuu betcha!  Malachi’s own story was entwined in real history…but there were definitely common elements that both Malachi and Lela shared that brought these two together.  Malachi was, at first, incredibly intrigued by this girl who didn’t belong in his realm…and soon that intrigue led to feelings he did not expect to develop.  Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, that intrigue turned into full-blown feelings of love and commitment...on both their parts.

Now…don’t roll your eyes…it TOTALLY WORKS in this story…really!!  I promise!

My heart broke for Nadia, and I loved Raphael and his ordinariness coupled with his brilliant smile!  The Mazikin were terrifying, creepy and deadly…and recruiting!

This was not light reading nor was it intended for younger young adults. The foundation of this story was based on sexual abuse, suicide and what might happen in the after-life.  The author’s concept of this type of purgatory was truly unique and well thought out and the heart-breaking truths of suicide really hit home.  I felt the frustration, self-blame and guilt Lela faced in this story…these reactions were right true.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that seems to leap-frog over much of my reads to be labelled a favourite…and Sanctum was one of them.   This first book in the Guards of the Shadowlands trilogy had lots rolled into it…action, adventure, chemistry, snark and incredibly romantic-laden moments.  Everything I love in a story!  I truly wish I had jumped on this when the opportunity was presented before the official release…and am definitely kicking myself for it.  I simply cannot wait for Fractured and return to this story!  If you have been on the fence with this one…time to jump off and dive in!


"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.



  1. This is such a unique world, you're so right! And he is PERFECT:)

    Love the action:)

    Lovely review:)

  2. Ohhh! Another series I need to check out! :-)

  3. Hmm, if the writing is anything like Kagwa's then I'd better get this book. Sounds like an interesting concept though I'm not too sure about that cover. Awesome review.

  4. I have been interested in this book for quite some time. Excpecially because of well developed romance and world - building. I am glad you liked it. Determined and brave female character is always a plus!

  5. The series sounds great. But you had me at Julie Kagawa! Thanks and sorry for the short comment.


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