Thursday 27 October 2022

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton #TheSanctuary @Emma_Haughton @HodderBooks @JennyPlatt90 #BookReview


Zoey doesn't remember anything about last night. But she knows something went badly wrong. For she is no longer in New York. She's woken up in the desert, in a white building she doesn't recognise, and she's alone.

When she discovers she's been admitted to The Sanctuary, a discreet, mysterious, isolated refuge from normal life, to avoid jail, she is stunned. She knows she has secrets, troubles, but she thought she had everything under control. But as she spends more time with other residents, she begins to open up about what she's running from. Until she realises that not everyone in The Sanctuary has her best interests at heart, and someone might even be a killer . . 

The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton is published by Hodder on 24 November 2022. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

The Sanctuary has one of the most compelling opening chapters that I've read in a long time, it's perfectly pitched and just makes the reader want more. And you get more, lots more. It's a locked-room mystery with a difference, with characters who are often difficult to empathise with and a plot that snakes around and comes back and bites you! 

The reader is introduced to lead character Zoey as she wakes with a splitting headache, wondering just what happened during her night out the previous evening with her two best friends. Gradually, she realises that she's very hot, and it's awfully quiet. Zoey is currently house sitting for her uncle Dan, in New York and it's usually noisy; cars, people, shops, the buzz of the city. This morning is silent, and blistering hot ..... and then Zoey realises that she's not in her uncle's apartment at all. She has no idea where she is, or how she got there.

Eventually both the reader, and Zoey, discover that she's at The Sanctuary, a rehab facility, in the middle of a Mexican desert and is expected to stay there for at least ten weeks. Zoey is not rich, she doesn't know anyone who is rich but it seems that a mysterious benefactor has paid for her stay. Zoey cannot leave, if she does, she will be expected to re-pay the costs of getting her to the Sanctuary, by private plane and then helicopter. 

Nothing makes sense to Zoey. She doesn't believe that she needs rehab, she admits that her life is a bit dead-end, constant moving about and low-paid, unskilled jobs, a lot of alcohol, the odd bit of hash, but nothing she cannot handle ... she believes.

As Zoey meets the other patients at The Sanctuary she realises that she's the odd one out. These are rich people, people who've done many stints in rehab. People with serious issues, yet the therapists indicate that Zoey has things to hide too, if only she could remember. 

There's a sense of dread within this story, it's clear that The Sanctuary is not all that it claims to be. Zoey cannot help herself but try to find out more about a recent patient who left suddenly, and then people begin to die .... and this is where it all gets a little bit crazy. 

Emma Haughton has created a cast of characters who are often perplexing, sometimes very shallow, but all with hidden secrets. Her desert setting is wonderfully created, with the constant heat and the miles and miles of red, arid landscape adding such an atmosphere to what is a cracking story. 

The Sanctuary kept me entertained, I never quite knew what to expect, although I had my suspicions about most of the cast at some point.  Intriguing and tense. Recommended by me. 

Emma Haughton grew up in Sussex; after a stint au pairing in Paris and a couple of half-hearted
attempts to backpack across Europe, she studied English at Oxford University then trained in journalism. During her career as a journalist, she wrote many articles for national newspapers, including regular pieces for the Times Travel section.

Following publication of her picture book, Rainy Day, Emma wrote three YA novels. Her first, Now You See Me, was an Amazon bestseller and nominated for the Carnegie and Amazing Book Awards. Better Left Buried, her second, was one of the best YA reads for 2015 in the Sunday Express. Her third YA novel, Cruel Heart Broken, was picked by The Bookseller as a top YA read for July 2016.

Find out more at or Or get in touch via Twitter: @Emma_Haughton

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