Sunday, April 18, 2021

It Needed a Bigger Avalanche!


TITLE: The Sanatorium
AUTHOR: Sarah Pearse
PUBLISHER: Pamela Dorman Books
PUBLISHING DATE: February 2, 2021
PAGES: 400 
SOURCE: Library


You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t. 
Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel. 
An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic. 
Elin is under pressure to find Laure, 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 are all in. . .

MY THOUGHTS: I love a good snowy thriller and when this one threw in the word "Gothic" it made it move that much more quickly on the TBR.  However, I'm sad to say that I've been burned a lot in 2021 by my the promise of isolated, snow-filled murder, mayhem and horror and The Sanatorium is just another book on that list (I'm looking at you Near the Bone and Shiver).

Elin Warner is a detective who has taken some time off after almost being drowned by a serial killer.  This trauma only added to one she experienced as a child, one where her baby brother also drowned.  Now Elin and her boyfriend are traveling to a new hotel in the Alps to meet her older brother and his fiancee and celebrate their upcoming wedding.  However, Elin isn't going to celebrate.  She is going in order to confront her brother and learn what role he actually played in his brother's "accidental" death.  
Soon after their arrival, the fiancee goes missing and Elin is pulled into an investigation she didn't plan on spearheading after an avalanche cuts the staff and guests off from the police as well as a way out.

This book sounded so good and I even heard comparisons to The Shining.  Seriously, did the people that compared it ever READ The Shining?  And even if they just watched the movie, the two STILL have nothing in common.  This book is not a Gothic horror.  It's a thriller at best which is probably doing so well because it just happens to have the Reese Witherspoon sticker on the front.  In fact, I'm actually surprised I got it so easily at the library because when I returned it, there were at least 8 people on the list behind me.  

I easily guessed the murderer and as for the childhood trauma, I saw that explanation coming a mile away as well.  I've said before that even if characters are unlikable, I can still enjoy a book.  But The Sanatorium had the most depressing cast of characters I've ever experienced.  They were all boring and miserable and I wished a bigger avalanche had wiped them all out - about 200 pages in.

I don't know who I would recommend this book to so I'm going to leave it at that.  If you are looking for a snowy thriller, read Shiver instead.  I didn't necessarily like it when I read it but this novel makes it look like a masterpiece.



  1. There was definitely not enough atmosphere for this to be considered "Gothic horror" - I think that was the aspect I was most disappointed in, plus the fact the protagonist was a nitwit. And yeah, comparing this to The Shining is just so wrong!

  2. What a bummer! I had high hopes for this one!

  3. Yours isn't the first negative review I've read of this book, and I'm sad because the premise does sound good!

  4. Melody and I are reading this one for our next buddy read next month, so I REALLY wish you'd liked it more. Guess I'll see if I like it any better.

  5. I'm sorry this one disappointed you.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  6. Ooh I'm sorry to hear this one wasn't any good. It seems like it has been so hyped up, and I was actually pretty eager to read it. The Shining is one of my favorite King novels, but it sounds like this one has nothing in common beyond snow.

  7. DARN! I was so pumped for this one. There seems to be a lot of books recently that are marketed incorrectly! :(