The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
Welcome to the new blog post series on sarahjuleswriting.com – ‘What Does a Ghostwriter Read?’
I’ve been wracking my brains thinking of fun new blog posts to write, without going over the same old stuff, and so I thought it would be a good idea to share with you little reviews of the books I’m reading at the moment. This should give you an insight into the genres and topics I enjoy. Think of it as a blind date with a book, where the book is used as a tool to get to know a potential ghostwriter. Choosing a ghostwriter, or editor, can be tricky and longwinded, this is another way to allow you to get to know me and decide whether I would be a good fit for your project, or not. I also post book reviews on my Instagram, @literary.booked, as well as dog pictures and various other bits and bobs. If you’re interested, go and take a scroll over there too.
So, without further ado, onto the review! (Don’t you love it when things happen to rhyme!)
The Book: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
The Genre: Gothic Thriller
Ghostly Rating: 👻👻👻👻
The Blurb: Everyone’s in danger. Anyone could be next.
An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.
And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancee Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .
The Review: In all honesty, I first picked up this book because it reminded me of The Shining by Stephen King, y’all know how much I love me some King! The isolated hotel. The snow. The gory past. And while there are similarities, the storytelling could not be more different. Pearse’s style of writing is stark and minimal, which is absolutely perfect for telling a story such as this, where the setting is a minimalistic designed hotel, with a blank backdrop of snow. There’s a distinct lack of frilly writing and unnecessary description and anecdotes, the author gets straight to the point and from the first chapter, I was hooked.
Something that I always, always enjoy in a book, is an unreliable narrator. Our narrator, Elin, takes us through the events as they happen, and thanks to the traumas of her past, this means that we can’t always take everything she says as completely accurate. Pearse did this in incredible fashion!
Pearse is very, very talented at writing cliffhangers; the book is full of them. Each chapter finishes with a sentence that makes you immediately want to read the next chapter. While I wasn’t a fan of the main character, I believe that this was done purposefully, and the storyline, in addition to the character development, meant that you wanted to keep reading. I am a huge believer in the fact that characters do not have to be loveable, and that characters you don’t like can be a great asset to a story.
The only thing that I felt was missing, was more detail from the past. Without any spoilers (don’t worry) the hotel was used as, you guessed it, a sanatorium when it was originally built, and some pretty enthralling and disturbing things went on there. I would have loved to delve further into this aspect of the story because, for me, this is what gave the book the chill factor. Despite that, I would definitely recommend this if you like thrillers, especially those where the characters are locked in and have no means of escape.
If you want to know more about the book, or the author, then here’s a link to her website: https://sarahpearse.co.uk/
Trigger warnings: Graphic depictions of violence and bodily mutilation. Sexual violence and rape. Child death. Discussions of psychosis, depression, and PTSD.
As always, wishing you love and books that make your heart skip a beat,
Sarah Jules xx