Thursday, 17 September 2015

Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

A haunting and luminous Gothic YA novel about reckoning with the ghosts of one's dark past.

After the untimely death of her aunt Laura, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old French-Gothic mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she's also haunted by the ghosts of her past--of her father who died at Sanctuary five years ago, and of her mother who was committed soon after. The memories leave Cecilia feeling shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary's library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her -- even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace with her haunted, tragic past?

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Scholastic Press 
Genre: Young Adult/Gothic

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Scholastic Press via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

This book had a little bit of everything. It was part ghost story, part mystery/suspense, part love story and part historical fiction. Although it seems like an odd and busy combination it actually worked quite well.

McKissack did a fabulous job in describing the setting of this book and Sanctuary. It was easy to visualise the Island and the old Gothic mansion. I felt like I was there and that I was a part of it. As the reader I was able to feel how eerie and creepy the mansion and graveyards were. I could feel the wind and the ocean right along with Cecilia.

This book tells a few stories. First is Cecilia's return to Sanctuary and her struggle to discover who she is and where she fit in. It also explores what first young love feels like. During this struggle it tells the haunting story of her father, Grandmother and sister who are all deceased and her mother who has been committed. Finally it tells the story of the ghosts that have been haunting the Island, mansion and Cecilia. These stories are all woven together in one mysterious and haunting package.

I really liked the ghost story and historical aspect of this story. In fact, I would have liked more of it. I already knew a bit about the Acadian history but it was interesting to read a story surrounding it. An entire story about this could have kept my interest alone. I also liked the sweet and squeaky clean budding relationship between Cecilia and Eli. It was sweet to read.

The book did start out quite slow and it took me a while to get into it. It was great once I got there but it took a while. While I found the historical aspect quite interesting, I do feel like younger readers may find it a little dull. I also found that the ending was a little anti-climatic as well.

Over all, I enjoyed this story and am glad that I had the opportunity to read it!

About the Author
Jennifer McKissack is the author of Sanctuary. She lives not too far from the sea.

Connect with Jennifer

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