Format: Kindle, 450 pages
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
“My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple.”
A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.
As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.
Sanctum is the opening salvo in the Guards of the Shadowlands trilogy. Meet 17-year old Lela Santos. Lela is a character that has literally faced her limits and is still going with some grit and determination. Abandoned at 4 by her neglectful mother, Lela was sent to live in various foster homes. She was later sent to prison after beating the crap out of her rapist foster father. Lela has one last chance to prove herself. She has a new foster mother, Diane, a new school, Warwick HS, and a best friend in Nadia Vetter whom she saved from a drug dealer. Nadia and Diane both make Lela feel something she hasn't in a very long time. Loved.
Lela feels as though she finally has a future, especially after getting a scholarship to college. Then, everything goes to hell, literally. Nadia, suffering from her own personal demons, kills herself. Lela finds that she has a connection to Nadia, and can tell exactly where she ended up. After mysteriously falling off a cliff to her death, Lela wakes up in a place called Countryside. Let's just call Countryside heaven and move on. Lela knows this isn't the place that she needs to be. She needs to find and rescue Nadia before Nadia becomes one of the hunted. But, Lela isn't exactly a coward. She sneaks her way into Shadowlands, and tries to find Nadia which she eventually does.
“Some people can’t keep fighting. Some people want to escape. Some people are not ready—are not able—to find a way to deal with what’s in front of them. Sometimes there’s no one to help them. Sometimes they don’t know how to ask for help. Sometimes it feels like there’s no choice but to end it. No other way out. And sometimes it’s impossible to see past that.”
Welcome to Shadowlands: Shadowlands is the place where suicides are sent until they are ready to be JUDGED by HER for their readiness to move on to their next destination. It is a dark place (no sunlight ever). It is a place where demons called the Mazikan take over the bodies of humans sending their souls straight to demon hell. It is a place where the food is rotten, and disgusting, and only those who have no place to go, gobble it up like chocolate. It is also the place where Lela meets Guards like Captain Malachi Sokol, and Ana, humans who are responsible for putting the Mazikan down.
Malachi is an interesting fellow. He's a true believer in what he does. He firmly believes that killing as many Mazikan as possible is what he is called to do and has been doing it for almost a century. One needs to respect the Mazikan or face their venomous bites that will kill quickly unless Raphael is around to help heal them. Like Lela, Malachi has had a painful past but has built his reputation as someone who the Mazikan are afraid of. I wasn't patient about the romance angle. I saw it coming, but didn't mind because it made both characters stronger and better.
I have noticed during my Sarah Fine reading week, that she has a vivid imagination that can't be denied. Sanctum isn't a story that is all happy and delightful. It can't be when suicide and rape are mentioned. I am recommending this book to everyone who follows my reviews. I will be reviewing the sequel Fractured, shortly.
“...Were you in the military?"
"Are you kidding me? I was in high school."
"High school," he said quietly. "You’re American. And a civilian?"
"Uh, yes. An American civilian."
"Lovely. A straight answer. Keep it up. Did somebody train you?"
"No, nobody trained me. Unless you count the Rhode Island child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Why?"
Malachi held up his hand and ticked off the reasons with his fingers. "You stole a Guard's weapon. If I'm not mistaken, it belonged to a Gate Guard. Which means you managed to do it on your way into the city. You escaped Amid even after he had you in hand. You slashed his leg in just the right place, preventing him from chasing you. Under extreme duress, injured and cornered, you threw a knife and hit a target-"
"It's not like I hit something vital.”