Bantam Press | 1 January 2021 | 387 pgs
Source: Purchased 

There's been some hype surrounding this book when it was first released. Chosen as a Reese's bookclub read and a story centers around an abandoned sanatorium turned five-star luxury hotel set in the Swiss Alps, I just knew I've to read it. 

Elin Warner is taking her leave from her job as a detective due to PTSD issue when she receives an invitation from her estranged brother, Isaac, to celebrate his engagement with his fiancée, Laure. Laure is their long-time friend and Elin knew she has no reason not to accept; and most importantly she has something to ask Isaac regarding their younger brother's death which has plagued her for years. She's suspected Isaac was responsible for Sam's death, but she isn't sure given the time and her young age when the incident happened. 

Together with Elin’s boyfriend, Will, they arrive at the isolated getaway and straightaway Elin feels unease with the atmospheric building and it gets worsen with the threatening snowstorm. Elin also learned that the hotel is owned by the Caron siblings, Lucas and Cécile and the former is friends with architect Daniel Lemaitre, who'd gone missing after the hotel project went on with much protests from the locals. When Laure goes missing the following day, Elin's investigative instincts kick in and the situation got worse after they find an employee is murdered. With the storm and the avalanche, they are left on their own and Elin has to overcome her anxiety and her demons of the past in order to continue with the investigation. 

The atmospheric and claustrophobic setting both make a wonderful plot for this locked-room mystery. Sarah Pearse scored a perfect score in this department as she brings her setting to life through her vivid descriptions right from the old sanatorium to the modern luxurious hotel. Her cast of characters is intriguing though not all are likeable. The intrigue and the intensity are another draw but alas, the setup is weakened by the execution, the lack of connection between the sanatorium and the hotel and regrettably, the motive and the ending also leave much to be desired. That said, this is a debut novel and there's potential in the author's writing so I'll still check out her next release. 

Finally, I want to thank Lark for reading this book with me as part of our buddy read 'assignments' and please do check out Lark's blog for her review, too! 😊 Here's her questions to me regarding the book:

1) That isolated snowy setting is always a favorite of mine (and yours, too), what are some of your other favorite settings to read about in books?
Aside from the isolated snowy setting, I also love reading about the wilderness and the oceanic world. In short, anything to do with the beauty and the unpredictables of nature and I'm in. 

2) The cover classifies The Sanatorium as a "Gothic thriller" but it felt less Gothic thriller and more regular mystery to me. What do you think? How would you classify this book? 
I totally agree with Lark on this. It was atmospheric but doesn't really classifies as a Gothic thriller (not much focus on the sanatorium in my opinion and some parts aren't fully explained, too). Personally, I'd think a suspense thriller is more suitable to this book. 
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10 Responses
  1. jenclair Says:

    This one was on my list, but I'm less sure about it after reading both your review and Lark's. Ah, well...

  2. Lark Says:

    Hey Melody! Great review of a not-so-great book. At least we had fun reading it together! :D

  3. I didn't love this one except for the atmospheric feel. I wondered how Elin ever functioned when she was working, she definitely got on my nerves.

  4. That's too bad this wasn't executed better, but it sounds like an author worth trying again. I love it when you and Lark read and discuss a book together. :-) Thank you for sharing!

  5. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I'd be curious of your thoughts if you do read it, Jenclair.

  6. Melody Says:

    Lark - It was a disappointing read but at least we'd fun discussing it so that's good enough for me. :)

  7. Melody Says:

    Diane - The atmospheric feel was great... If only there's more info/backstory of the sanatorium and the motive was convincing. Sigh.

  8. Melody Says:

    Wendy - The author's writing was engaging; and it's always so fun to read with Lark. :D

  9. Iliana Says:

    A bit of a bummer that this one didn't have the gothic elements that were supposedly part of the story but still sounds like a fun read. I mean, an isolated hotel and a snowstorm, what can go wrong!

  10. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I loved the setting and despite it being a disappointment, overall it was still readable. :)

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