The Sanatorium

Hello and HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

Whether single or in a relationship, I hope today you are in receipt of some love, whether that be a self-care pamper or a little gift from your loved one.

We’ve spent the morning making breakfast, eating and going for a walk in the neighbourhood and I’ve just polished off the most delicious afternoon tea, more on that below!

This week I’m coming to you again with a brand new release from an English author and honestly a novel that I think the world is going to love. It’s available to pre-order now, with Hardback released on Wednesday 18th February in the UK, so just a couple of days away! Even better news in the US, you’re already able to get your paws on a copy!

THE SANATORIUM, BY SARAH PEARSE

“You won’t want to leave…until you can’t.”

The Sanatorium

Set in the picturesque yet intimidating Swiss alps, ‘The Sanatorium’ opens with a creepy death at the construction site of The Sanatorium, an old medical facility for the treatment of TB in Le Somme that is controversially being transformed into a high class, alps hotel by hotelier Lucas Caron. The setting in itself is isolated from the rest of humanity – it’s beautiful and serene, yet eerie and claustrophobic. It’s almost a character in the story all by itself.

We meet our main character, Elin Warner, a Detective from England currently on leave due to PTSD. She’s come to the now opened hotel with her partner, Will, to celebrate the engagement of her brother Isaac and his fiancee Laure. All sounds luxurious and idyllic except that Elin and Isaac have a strained relationship and Elin’s mental health issues are clearly putting extra tensions on her relationship with Will. It’s apparent from the off that a childhood trauma involving their younger brother Sam is at the heart of the strain between the siblings and exacerbating the issue with her PTSD, but at the same time Isaac appears to be a bit of a sociopath who gains energy and enjoyment from tormenting others emotionally. It’s all very awkward and emotionally draining for our worn out detective.

Whilst this is going on, as readers we are aware of disappearances of those connected to the hotel, involving scary gas masks and bracelets, that mean nothing to us just yet and that our cast of otherwise living characters are also unaware of. As a reader therefore, we’re wondering who is going to be next on the list, what all the clues mean and most importantly.. who is to blame?

Initially I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this book, the premise sounded very much like Hanna Jameson’s ‘The Last’ and Ruth Ware’s ‘One by One’ which are also locked room thrillers set in the snow; and admittedly whilst there are similarities in terms of being such, the story and style itself is very different. 

It’s more of a gothic thriller style novel with a very CSI Miami vibe when it comes to the grisly scenes. The author uses nature and all its glory to trap our characters exactly where they are, which only builds the fear and anxiety factor. As it becomes obvious to them that people are being taken, it dawns upon them all that they are locked in with a creepy killer obsessed with the history of the building and they cannot get out. It’s now on Elin to find the killer..before they kill her.

CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 4/5

This was admittedly a very slow burn for me, it took me DAYS to get to 30% of the book. I wasn’t quite connecting with the narrative and I felt the pace was a little slow. But then it started snowing outside and I felt much more connected to the plot as a result so sat down and read it for much longer than I had been doing previously (not that I’m saying it has to snow for you to enjoy this one)!

Having been to the Swiss alps myself, the descriptions the author used took me back to standing so high up above the clouds and made me feel all the emotions and anxiety those characters would be feeling to begin with, let alone with a monster on the loose.

At around 50% in, it all turned and began to gather speed. All of a sudden I couldn’t put the book down, flipping through as much as possible. It was as though I’d been in a carriage of a rollercoaster, slowly climbing to the top of the drop, then the carriage had accelerated down and couldn’t be stopped. The rest of the novel was that level of excitement, a frenzy of action.

All the time I was guessing people’s involvement, I don’t think I trusted anyone at one point! However one of my hunches was correct, I just maybe don’t find the ‘why’ believable. I also didn’t quite understand why Elin had gone to Isaac’s engagement party when they were estranged, I wouldn’t expect someone to want to put more strain on their mental health with having to deal with something like that when they were already having problems, but perhaps thats more signs of Elin’s overcommitting people pleasing character.

On the whole a really solid thriller and one that will certainly get you drawn in. My personal opinion in comparison to One by One and The Last is that this character set is stronger (there’s less characters to flesh out) and also the setting and action is much more creepy.

It’s already a Reese Weatherspoon book club pick and I expect it to be a book of the month for many other book clubs soon!

RRP: £12.99

Thanks so very much to Sarah Pearse, Netgalley and Bantam for my gifted advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

WASHED DOWN WITH:

So I’m not going to fib to you. I just almost had an afternoon nap before I could open by MacBook back open because I am so very happy, warm and full. A few weeks ago the super arty @teafromabove on IG posted a glorious valentine’s afternoon tea from Piglets Pantry, a food producer in West Sussex. I was like you know what, I’m having it! Having heard about Piglet’s before I decided now was the time to treat us both.

It arrived on Thursday, in dry ice, which is cool as heck. I’m totally dairy free and so ordered the vegan afternoon tea. Can you believe that this is an afternoon tea for 1 person? We decided to have something from the box over the last 3 days (trying to shift that lockdown weight haha!) but today we have finally brewed the tea and eaten most of it, including the scones. I am so so impressed. The cakes were incredible, particularly the chocolate one, the sausage rolls are so tasty and the vegan cream was the best I’ve had. I decided to wash mine down with Teapigs Earl Grey Strong, which is such a bold, scented flavour, but so different to many other Earl Grey teas I’ve tried. It’s up there with Suki Tea Blue flower Earl Grey for me, delicious. You can of course head over to http://www.teapigs.co.uk to buy those.

If you fancy treating yourself soon, head over to http://www.pigletspantry.co.uk – delivery isn’t cheap but they deliver all over the UK. Did I mention IT ARRIVES IN DRY ICE?

Ok, I really need that nap.

Enjoy the rest of your day, and let me know in the comments if this thriller sounds up your street!

Until the next chapter,

Emma, X0

Socials: @papyrusandpeppermint

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