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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

The Sanatorium, Sarah Pearse: A Review

I've had The Sanatorium on my TBR for months now--I mean, that cover is stunning--and I was excited to finally be able to start it.

On leave from her detective job following a brutal case, Elin and her boyfriend travel to Le Sommet, a remote hotel in the Swiss Alps that was once a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients, to celebrate her estranged brother's engagement. But with an extreme snow storm moving in, and the brother's fiancee goes missing, Elin decides she has to investigate. The truth has eluded her for years, but now, trapped in the hotel, she might finally get the answers she's looking for. Who will survive the truth is another matter entirely.

I loved this book.

Pearse nailed the atmosphere. From the snow to the cold to the lavish yet terribly creepy hotel, I was engrossed by the setting. And because the imagery was so immersive, the horror of what was happening at this resort was that much more pointed. While most of the book centered around Elin, the chapters that were devoted to Adele added a cinematic layer of tension. No spoilers, but I think including them not only heightened the suspense, it also provided a gut-punch of realization at a crucial turning point in the story. No one is safe. There's nowhere to go.

And in a book with a lineup of secrets ranging decades, there was no short supply of suspicious characters. The loving boyfriend. The liar. The estranged friend. The scorned citizens. The tortured detective. Pearse did a wonderful job creating avenues of suspicion, many of which gave me serious late 90s/early aughts slasher vibes. Elin was a lot like a Sidney Prescott, so I think anyone who likes their thrillers with a healthy dose of twists and turns will love the progression of the story.

There was a lot going on, and the ending felt a little rushed/explanatory, but overall, The Sanatorium was a twisting, dark thrill ride with stunning imagery and terrifying moments that kept me on the edge of my seat. I'd recommend to fans of Ruth Ware or anyone who likes their thrillers with a psychological edge.


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