‘At first glance they’re magnificent, yet the more she looks, the more she realizes how sinister the mountains appear: raw, jagged spikes. It’s not hard to imagine, she thinks, looking out; this place somehow consuming someone, swallowing them whole.’
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 realized 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’ve always been fascinated by abandoned buildings, Urbexing is something I have always wanted to try but been too scared to make a reality! The most beautiful and atmospheric of these are abandoned Sanatoriums - large and magnificent architectural masterpieces which have such a turbulent and troubled history. Therefore the setting of The Sanatorium; an asylum which has been renovated to a chic hotel on the Swiss Alps really peaked my interest. When murders start occurring and an avalanche cuts the hotel off from civilisation, Elin Warner, a detective on a career break after a disturbing case finds herself in charge.
There is much to like about The Sanatorium, and this doesn’t just extend to the brilliant setting of the book. The crimes themselves are creepy, with the assailant wearing a black, rubber gas mask with a hose connecting the mouth and nose. This imagery stuck with me and is so creepy when reading after dark!
I also really enjoyed the characters – particularly Elin who has a lot of previous trauma, claustrophobia and commitment issues which are explored throughout. Although she is a detective it was nice to have someone with flaws and personal issues to overcome and it never felt cliché like it has in previous crime fiction stories I have read. I also liked that you never really trusted anyone in the book – they all felt well-rounded and realistic but your guard was up the whole way through and there were plenty of red herrings to confuse you. My only criticism would be the end few chapters – I didn’t understand the reveal twist at the end and don’t think it added much to the story – is it trying to set up a second book perhaps? The epilogue was nice to wrap things up but again didn’t really feel needed – it just summed up everything we already knew.
Overall, The Sanatorium is an atmospheric and creepy read which kept me hooked trhoughout. Thank you to NetGalley & Random House UK & Transworld Publishers – Bantam Press for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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