Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me with an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: January 19th, 2016
Synopsis: When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country–Sanctuary Bay Academy–it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to it’s tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.
Sanctuary Bay is one of those books that teaches you it’s not wise to go into things with preconceived notions. I really thought I knew where this was heading, and boy was I ever wrong. Beginning with a horrifying and traumatic flashback from Sarah, the story immediately grabbed me and never let go.
Sarah is a strong character that readers will be become emotionally invested in. Despite the trauma in her past and her unhappy childhood, she never feels sorry for herself, although it does leave her with trust issues and a bit prickly when it comes to starting new relationships. Given her background, this is perfectly understandable. She has a certain ability which she draws on to help her figure out what is actually going on at this posh school and how it’s related to her past. It’s not anything magical or super-powered, which makes things a little different. There’s a bit of a love triangle between Sarah, Nate, and Ethan but the events overtake their relationships so quickly that it never really reaches the annoying stage.
There were just a couple of things that prevented this from being a perfect read for me. First, when the villain is revealed he’s a bit cartoonish. He goes into a long-winded and self-congratulatory speech, which you know would never happen in real life. Second, despite all his over-sharing, there were a couple of plot holes that I felt weren’t filled.
Overall, though Sanctuary Bay is a novel that far surpasses its synopsis. It’s a wild ride that successfully combines multiple genres with compelling characters, and makes it darn near impossible to put down. The ending definitely alludes to a sequel, which I’m eagerly awaiting.