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BLOG TOUR - The Book of Sand




Penguin Random House - Cornerstone have very kindly asked me to participate in their blog tour for a brand new fantasy: The Book of Sand which came out on 6th January. I am so excited to join in, I'll start by telling you all about the book and its author and then share my review!


Enter a world of simmering heat and shifting sands. Where danger lies around every corner. Where death lurks as night falls, And you will kill - just to stay alive...

Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

In the distance a group of people - a family - walk towards us.

Ahead lies shelter: a 'shuck' the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.

To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.

It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life - except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she's beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is...

Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.



THEO CLARE left school at fifteen. She worked as a barmaid, security guard, filmmaker, hostess in a Tokyo club, educational administrator and teacher of English as a foreign language in Asia. She had an MA in film from The American University in Washington, DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University, UK. She wrote crime novels under the name Mo Hayder, and her fifth novel Ritual was nominated for the Barry Award for Best Crime 2009 and was voted Best Book of 2008 by Publishers Weekly. Gone, her seventh novel, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and her novel Wolf was nominated for Best Novel in the 2015 Edgar Awards and is currently being adapted for the BBC. Theo Clare was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2020 and passed away in July 2021.


Mo Hayder has been a thriller author I’ve admired for a long time and so I was so excited to receive the ARC for The Book of Sand, a fantasy from her pseudonym – Theo Clare. The premise is an exciting one – a family trying to survive a quest in a harsh desert world that isn’t all as it seems. The first half of the story is also interspersed by the story of McKenzie – a young girl whose life is turned upside down when she starts seeing lizards in her house.

The book itself is quite long at 600 pages but it is an engaging one. I do feel that a good ruthless edit could have easily taken a few hundred pages out of it though. The chapters following McKenzie could have been edited down – particularly as that storyline fizzles out in the middle of the book. Some of the later desert sections also felt a little repetitive. I loved the desert setting though – the abandoned cities were very atmospheric and lead to some creepy moments – especially the lift shafts of the apartment buildings. I also enjoyed the characters – a ragtag bunch of people thrown together and forced to become a family without really knowing their goal or what was happening to them. Spider and Yma stuck out and although there were quite a lot of characters, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the number. I particularly liked ‘Camel’ who was so well written and becomes as strong a part of the family as anyone else.

This book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger ready for the sequel, but some plot points are resolved and we do eventually find out what has been happening. I must admit I was a little disappointed at the conclusion – I didn’t like the spirituality element and I wanted there to be a bigger and more surprising twist about who the Djinns were or what was happening around them. I also didn’t really understand the plot points about the scouts and found that reveal just confusing rather than informative. I’m sure the sequel will be interesting though and I’m intrigued to see where the characters end up next!

Overall, The Book of Sand is a bit long but it’s an atmospheric and intriguing fantasy which will keep you gripped and wanting to work out what is going on behind the scenes. I look forward to the reading the sequel and finding out what happens next! Thank you to NetGalley, Random House UK, Cornerstone and Century for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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