Book Review – Sanctuary by V.V James

The small Connecticut town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback.

Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker?

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching . . .

Review!

This book took me on one hell of a wild ride! Filled to the brim with unpredictable twists and utterly believable characters, I loved this a lot more than I expected too.

“There’s a reason why Fairy tales tell us magic and a mothers love are the invincible combination.”

Sarah and Abigail have been friends since before their children were born, and the friendship was cemented on a warm spring night many years ago. Daniels death throws a spanner in the works though, especially when people seem to be trying to place the blame on Sarah’s gift less daughter Harper. When Harper comes out and publicly accuses Daniel of something unthinkable, Abigail knows that she has to destroy them, both mother and daughter, and she will do whatever it takes to ensure the legend of her boy remains unsullied. Maggie Knight gets put in an almost impossible situation, she believes Harper’s accusations, but also can’t forget the fact that magic was used in Daniels death, especially when an old state law is dug up that heightens the consequences if magic and Harper were to blame. These three women get drawn deeper into a twisted web of lies and deceptions that bring about a spectacular and horrific ending.

This book is told through multiple perspectives; Abigail Whitman, Daniels mother; Sarah Fenn and local witch & Maggie Knight, the state detective put on the case. These differing perspectives added a completely new depth to the book. The characters start off likeable, and then bit by bit their inner, truer selves come out and we see the darkness in them. The willingness to do whatever is takes to protect those they love. Abigail and Sarah are in similar situations, both trying to protect someone that they love. But its their actions that separate them from one another. Whilst Sarah is heartbroken that anyone could believe Harper had something to do with this, imploring with people to believe Harper’s innocence. Abigail is quick to place the blame and twist facts to ensure others believe her, even if that means putting more and more people at risk, including someone she classed as a friend.

This book is about loss, about how far a parent will go to protect their child, even to the extent of covering up some truly heinous acts. It’s about how the truth can be twisted, how people can immortalise people who don’t deserve it and turn on the people who need help the most. It shows how easily people can be manipulated to see a truth that isn’t actually the truth, and how these lies and twisted truths can destroy lives. We know this story, we see it all the time. Small town hero and football player gets accused of something, before or after death, and nobody wants to believe it. It’s easier to blame the victim, then truly believe someone so adored can truly be that evil. But add in magic and the story takes a whole different turn, especially when the person they are placing the blame on has no powers to speak of.

James creates a world so very similar to our own, except Witches exist and are accepted into everyday life. There are strict rules in place limiting the amount of magic they can perform and ensuring the safety of those ‘ungifted.’ We learn about the history of Witches as the book progresses, about the laws that control them and the government bodies that aim to protect them. The author manages to seamlessly fit all this information into the story without overly deviating from the plot. In fact most of these little info dumps add necessary and relevant knowledge that we as the reader need to feel the consequences of what is happening.

Each chapter had me questioning myself, making me change my mind on who was to blame and adding a new spanner into the works. The author definitely knows how to keep us as readers on our toes, and for that reason I found it incredibly hard to put this book down. But nothing, nothing could have prepared me for the, maybe inevitable, ending. I was on the edge of my seat, white knuckled and in utter shock that events had gone this far, and then bam! We get hit with yet another twist that throws the whole book into question. I definitely needed a cooling off period after reading this, my emotions were haywire ranging from anger to sadness. I don’t know why it took me this long to pick Sanctuary up, but I will certainly be searching for the authors other works after this brilliant book. There are some trigger warnings; mentions of Rape on page (including description of a video) and abusive slurs.

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