Book Review: Sanctuary by V.V. James

Oh holy hell this book though.

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About the Book

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 . . .

My Review

Vic James is one of my favourite authors, and Sanctuary is her first book writing as V.V. James. I heard amazing things about this from early reviewers, so when the hardback went on sale early at YALC this summer, I snapped up my copy. I love all things witchy and all things Vic, so it was bound to be brilliant.

Sanctuary follows a group of mum friends after the son of one of them dies and the daughter of another is accused of the murder. This book gets straight in with the tension and gripping action and it doesn’t let go until the last pages. I did not want to put this book down.

It is told from the different perspectives of the group of mums, and the investigating officer. All are unreliable narrators with their own biases and secrets, and the more I read, the more suspicious I became of everyone. And I mean everyone. Sarah was instantly my favourite; I love a witch and Sarah is so caring, so down to earth and just wants to help everyone in the only way she knows how. When her daughter, Harper, is accused of witchcraft, it shakes her world. The two don’t have an easy relationship, and Harper is a very troubled teen, but Sarah is convinced of her daughter’s innocence and will stop at nothing to save her daughter. Abigail is a desperate grieving mother and her emotions really hit me where it hurts. The thought of losing a child is unbearable, and Abigail will stop at nothing to ensure justice for her boy. This sets to two friends firmly against each other and the whole town is dragged into siding with one or the other.

Initially, I loved the seamless merging of witchcraft into this world – the way it was written into the laws of this world, how it is accepted as part of everyday life, and how people will go to the town witch for help as easily as they would see their doctor. But when the witch’s daughter is accused of murder, it turns dark, fast. It soon becomes apparent that the equality witches have been enjoying isn’t all that equal: a witch accused of murder using witchcraft faces the death penalty. We see how swiftly society will turn against anything unusual in the face of a crisis, how far a grieving mum will go for revenge and how terrifying and dangerous an organised witch hunt can be.

There is an extra mystery in this book; Maggie, the investigating officer, attended another incident with this group of mums many years ago, and it takes a while for us to find out exactly what went on, but when we do it is mind blowing and devastating. It adds a new dimension to the book and I am still not over the shock.

The twists in Sanctuary are phenomenal, the final pages blew me away. V.V. James is an amazingly talented writer, and I would read 900 books in this world. If you haven’t hopped on board the Sanctuary hype train, then I recommend you do so immediately.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it! 

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