Sanctuary Book Review

V.V. James’ Sanctuary is perfect for fans of the fantasy genre who are looking to dip their toes into murder mystery. It is the perfect blend of the two categories being set in the real world, where all things mimic our own, with one exception. Witches are real and coexist in society as their own cultural group, though still governed by the same laws as everyone else.

Sanctuary book review by Johnathon Nicoloau

The story centres on Detective Maggie Knight who is brought into the (title) town ‘Sanctuary’ to investigate the murder of the popular star quarterback, Daniel Whitman. The story unfolds when rumours spread drawing Maggie’s investigation to the daughter of a known witch, the victim’s ex-girlfriend, with whom the relationship ended on suspicious terms. This leads to the mother of the victim and the accused, best friends, facing off head to head attempting to find justice for their own children.

What makes this book so good it James’ ability to tackle the controversial issue of prejudice towards a cultural minority, who have been stereotyped by the past. Despite the group being supernatural in nature it is no different to the racial prejudice we see in the real world today.

The author takes the readers on an exciting journey following the investigation’s twist and turns, keeping us in the dark, building the suspense until to reveal shocking truths to all parties involved. She puts the audience in the shoes of both the detective and the two mothers giving us a triangular view of all sides of the case as the book slowly narrows down to its conclusion which is guaranteed to shock any first time readers. She blends the right mix of fantasy and fantasy lore with relatable reality to keep us on our toes tapping into our curiosity to read more.

The book has very strong plot and exciting story, however I found it to be a slow start. It was convoluted in the beginning that witchcraft was a known aspect to the world in which I was reading. Furthermore the writing itself was somewhat sub-par in comparison to other, perhaps more experienced authors. HOWEVER, these points are heavily outweighed by the many positives of the novel. Once I climbed that small hill in the early chapters of the book I found myself unable to put it down. I rate the book a 7/10, dropping points for the slow start, but still a book I would highly recommend.

Johnathon Nicolaou

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