The Sanatorium – Sarah Pearse

Published By: Bantam Press
Pages: 368
Date Published: 18/02/2021
Date Read: 21/02/2021

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 realised 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
.

I couldn’t go online anywhere without someone raving about The Sanatorium. “Spine-tingling”, “deliciously creepy”, “downright chilling”. These are all reasons I wasn’t going to read it. I am an absolute wuss and hate all scary things – films or books. And this sounded like it was going to be all kinds of frightening.

But I had popped to Sainsburys and saw it was there for half price so thought I’d give it a try. If it scared me that much, I would just stop reading it. So I started. And had finished it in less than 24 hours.

It is creepy and chilling and scary and terrifying and definitely all kinds of frightening. Sarah Pearse has managed to write in such a way that you can feel the chill of the snow on your face, hear the creaks of the floorboards beneath your feet, feel the breath on your neck from strangers watching you in the dark.

SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT, SPOILER ALERT

The images she paints of the tortured souls – both physically and mentally – is so disturbing. But the thing that has disturbed me the most are the masks that are used on both the killer and the victims. Giving a sense of anonymity, facelessness, suffocation – creating monsters out of victims.

It is absolutely haunting and I feel I can’t recommend it to anyone because it scared me so much. But saying that, I want to recommend it to everyone. So if your will is strong enough, then give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

But I probably won’t be booking my holiday to the Swiss Alps any time soon.

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