Thursday 14 January 2021

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse @SarahVPearse BLOG TOUR @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #TheSanatorium #BookReview

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 fiancée 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 Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse is published by Bantam Press; ebook on 4 February and hardback on 18 February 2021, and is available to pre-order now. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours blog tour.

I started to read The Sanatorium quite late one evening and ended up staying awake way past bedtime. It's one of those books that has an opening that just snatches your breath away, making it almost impossible to stop reading. An excellent beginning to what has been a real thrill of a read, sending me on wild-goose chases, suspecting so many people and then being totally thrown by this very clever author. 

The setting is perfect for the plot line. A top-class hotel, recently converted from an old sanatorium, high in the Swiss Alps. Whilst the hotel style is modern and minimal, the developers have incorporated artefacts from the original building into the decor. The constant reminder of the building's original purpose adds a subtle chill to the proceedings. 

Elin Warner and her boyfriend Will have arrived at the hotel to attend the engagement party of her estranged brother Isaac and his financee. Elin is a police detective, currently on extended leave after a traumatic incident at work. She's fragile and a little bit broken. She's not sure that travelling to see her brother after all this time is a good idea. Elin harbours a lot of resentment toward Isaac. Their younger brother Sam died as a child and Elin has always held Isaac responsible. She's also angry that he didn't return home to visit their terminally ill mother before she died, and didn't even attend the funeral.

The hotel makes Elin feel uneasy too. Coupled with the the impending storm and the fear of an avalanche and not being able to leave, she's really jittery.

The discovery of a woman's body; mutilated and wearing a strange and frightening mask doesn't add anything to Elin's mood, and despite the fact that she's not officially working, and is in a different country, she jumps in to help. This will only put her and her family in more danger. 

Pearse has created a tense and chilling story that goes to another level due to the setting. Even without the gruesome murders and the absolute terror of realising that there is a killer amongst the hotel residents, the description of the claustrophobic ice and snow add so much depth. It's the type of book that makes you want to wrap a blanket around yourself as you read.

As Elin gets deeper and deeper into the investigation, it becomes clear that nobody can be trusted. There are so many secrets being hidden. So many things unsaid, and the author creates such a feeling of unease and darkness that my heart began to pound in terror. 

There were times when I wanted to scream at Elin. Her past experiences don't seem to have taught her much and her determination to solve the case, and prevent any more deaths often seem to make her blind to the danger she puts herself in. There's a feeling of self-despair that comes from her, with her own personal history becoming entwined with current events.

The Sanatorium is a vividly described, tense and chilling thriller. I was glued to the pages, frantically turning each one as the complex and cleverly structured story unfolded. 
Anyone who loves a twisty ride of a book will enjoy this one. 

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters.
She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands.After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel.Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy - remote spaces and abandoned places - so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she'd found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes. 

You can find Sarah on Twitter @SarahVPearse and Instagram @sarahpearseauthor

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