Thanks to a NetGalley and Viking Books for Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Synopsis: A horror story about friendship, growing up, and finding a place in the world: Gremlins meets The Breakfast Club by way of Stephen King and Stranger Things.
1982, the summer before seventh grade. Five kids with nothing in common—Sep, Arkle, Hadley, Lamb, and Mack—become instant friends. On the last day of summer, they find a stone box buried in the forest, and each places an object inside to seal their friendship. And they make rules:
Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after dark.
Never take back your sacrifice.
1986, the summer before eleventh grade. The five haven’t spoken since that day in 1982. Sep has gone through the past four years alone and plans to escape to boarding school. But strange things are happening—mirrors are breaking unexpectedly, electricity is flickering in and out, and people are coming down with inexplicable physical ailments.
Someone has broken the rules. And it seems the five committed more than objects to the box’s ancient stone—they gave it their deepest secrets and darkest fears, and now these are being returned in a flood of shambling corpses, murderous toys, and undead pets. The gang must reunite in an attempt to discover the secrets of the sacrifice box—and Sep might be the only one who can stem its tide of evil before it’s too late.
Before I give you my review of The Sacrifice Box, I have to give animal lovers fair warning: A LOT of them die in this book, and in some pretty gruesome ways. Humans do as well, but let’s be honest, it’s our fuzzy four-legged friends that we really hate seeing perish. What? I’m just saying what we’re all thinking! Anyway, if you have a problem with books like Stephen King’s Pet Semetary, then this twisted tale may not be for you.
Okay, now for the nitty gritty. As the premise states, The Sacrifice Box is part Stranger Things, part Breakfast Club, part Gremlins, and definitely has a mix of Stephen King—specifically Stand By Me, It, and Pet Semetary. This could have been a red hot derivative mess, but Martin Stewart takes all these elements and skillfully blends them into a nightmarish concoction that captured my attention so thoroughly I finished it in one sitting.
There were two issues I had which prevented me from giving this 5 stars. While I loved the main character September “Sep” Hope, I didn’t find the other characters quite as well rounded. There’s a lot of action going on in this story and it flips between different timelines, and I think that because there was so much happening, the characters’ development suffered a bit. My other problem was with the ending which I felt was too rushed and left a few loose ends. Because I’m a reader who likes her books to be neatly tied up, especially when they’re standalones, I was a little frustrated by this.
Despite these issues, I absolutely loved The Sacrifice Box and I think fans of hardcore horror will really enjoy this. The book is marketed as YA, but I would strongly recommend it for 16 year-olds and up due to all the blood, gore, and overall scariness of it. It’s an entertaining mix of terrifying horror and a poignant coming-of-age story that looks at love, friendship, and the secrets we all keep hidden deep within ourselves.
You’re probably wondering “Kim! What’s up with the creepy gifs?” Well, if you choose to read this let’s just say you might want to lock up any stuffed animals and dolls in the house. And you might want to keep an eye on your pets. Um, and be wary of birds, squirrels, deer, and…Just don’t go outside until you’ve recovered from reading this book!
About the Author:
Martin Stewart has previously worked as an English teacher, university lecturer, barman, recycling technician, and golf caddy. A native of Glasgow, he now lives on Scotland’s west coast with his wife, baby daughter, and a very big dog. He enjoys cooking with eggs, running on the beach, re-watching his favorite films, and buying books to feed his to-be-read pile.
You can also find him here:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/martin_j_stewart/