Sanctuary | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"Morgan’s home is a sanctuary for ghosts.
The once-grand, now dilapidated old house they live in has become a refuge for their found family. From Morgan’s partner Araminta, an artist with excellent dress sense, to Theo, a ten-year-old with an excess of energy, to quiet telekinesthetic pensioner Denny, all of them consider this haunted house their home. In a world that wasn’t built for their queer, neurodivergent selves, they’ve made it into a place they belong.
Together they welcome not just the ghosts of the house’s former inhabitants, but any who need somewhere to belong. Both the living and the dead can find themselves in need of a sanctuary.
When a collection of ghosts trapped in old bottles are delivered to their door, something from the past is unleashed. A man who once collected ghosts – a man who should have died centuries before – suddenly has the house under his control. Morgan must trust their own abilities, and their hard-won sense of self, to save their home, their family, and the woman they love."
Sanctuary is a standalone fantasy novel by Andi C. Buchanan.
First and foremost, I would like to thank NetGalley and Robot Dinosaur Press for giving me the opportunity to review this in advance. Please note that this in no way affects my opinions. Also note that what I read was an ARC, and things may be subject to change for the official release.
This is one of those books that could have been so much better if it was slightly different. I want to give this a 3.5 rating and say that it was an okay book, but looking back on it, I don't have many strong positive emotions about this book.
I am always on the hunt for books involving an inn that takes care of the dead, but this didn't really go there for me, and that is probably the biggest reason why this book sits solidly in my 'meh' rating.
Let's get into the details.
One thing I would like to mention first is that before it goes into the actual story, there is a content warning page, which earns some brownie points in my books. It is something that I think all books should have as a form of good practice.
Moving on, the writing was overall okay but not the greatest in terms of the format. There were some pretty chunky paragraphs with no spaces between them which made it seem denser. Increasing the font made it easier to read but if you read with the standard font it might be more difficult for you. Text messages were also included in the text, but it was done so in a bit of an odd-looking way.
There were some grammar mistakes like a sentence missing a period and a random one added somewhere else, but that could end up being fixed for the final copy.
The last thing I would like to talk about is the timeline and perspectives. While this is mostly set in the present time following the same main character, but, there are certain chapters now and then set in the past from a different character's perspective. It is a perspective that I don't think was needed as it didn't add much to the narrative.
I don't think, after the initial set-up was complete and the plot started to kick in, the story was all that interesting. It was just nothing particularly new or spectacular, which made the book overall just mediocre.
A big downfall for me as well was the lapse of logic on the parts of the characters. They made some mistakes and didn't think much of it until everything started to fall apart around them. If they had sat down for a second and thought things through a bit, they would have been able to rectify things much quicker.
As I said in the introduction, there were elements in this story that could have been interesting if they were done differently. For example, the house is occupied by ghosts from all kinds of time periods, and it would have made for a really interesting story if you were able to learn about the past through the ghosts. Unfortunately, ghosts in this world don't retain knowledge after they die, which was a huge missed opportunity for me.
Another huge missed opportunity in this was the use of paranormal abilities. You learn very early on that the main character, Morgan, has the ability to sense things. I don't know how to explain it clearly, but the closest thing I can compare it to would be clairvoyance. This could have made for a very interesting aspect of the story, but it wasn't really implemented into the story, at all. Morgan keeps referring to the ability but doesn't actually use it which was a waste.
While I didn't particularly care about any of the characters but if there is anything this book did well, it was the inclusion of diverse characters. The cast of characters is comprised of people who are neurodivergent, disabled and LGBTQ. I don't think I have read a book with that much representation in it, though I cannot comment on how good said representation is when it came to the neurodivergent and disabled aspects.
Moving on though, as I said, I didn't really care for any of the characters. Morgan, the main character, felt more like a one-dimensional narrator than an actual character most of the time. The rest of the characters also simply just fell flat for me.
This was not the 'inn for the dead' book that I wanted this to be. It sounded promising initially but the story was just not something I cared about. If you were looking for the same thing I was, I would suggest you try out Hotel Del Luna, which is a Korean drama.
If you do want to pick this up, keep in mind that there are trigger warnings for self-harm, suicidal ideation, death, abuse, trauma, and depictions of mental illness.