The Sanatorium – Book Review

How do you go about unpicking someone from your life when they’re the thread tying every part of you together?

The Sanatorium – Chapter 13

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pease is the February book club pick from Reese Witherspoon’s book club. This is one of the most atmospheric books I have ever read. It is set during a snow storm at a hotel which was once a tuberculosis sanatorium which makes it a chilling read.

Check out our other reviews of Reese’s 2021 book club selections. January’s pick was Outlawed by Anna North.

Read on to find out what I thought of The Sanatorium!

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Cover of the book the Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.

The Sanatorium – About the Book

  • Author: Sarah Pearse
  • Published:
  • Type of Book: Fiction
  • Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Detective
  • I read The Sanatorium on my Kindle and purchased it from Amazon

My Synopsis of The Sanatorium

Elin Warner is a detective who is currently on a leave of absence from her job due to a case that went badly…it was a situation that almost cost Elin her life and was caused in many ways by her own inability to cope.

In addition to the PTSD acquired from this particular incident, the detective seems to have always had an unsettled soul. She is struggling not only with the job issues, but also with circumstances from her past and her present relationships. She believes that her estranged brother, Isaac, was in some way responsible for the death of her other brother.

Despite that, when Elin receives an invitation to attend Isaac’s engagement party she decides to attend. The reader is made to believe that Elin hopes that seeing her brother can give her some clarity into not only their relationship, but her current situation, and her troubling past.

Elin and her boyfriend, Will, travel to the site of the celebration, Le Sommet. Le Sommet is a new, minimalist, modern and incredibly creepy hotel which was created from what was once a tuberculosis sanatorium. It is located high in the rugged Swiss Alps at the top of a mountain road that is treacherous in the best of circumstances.

A snowstorm strikes the area shortly after Elin and her boyfriend arrive and due to the threat of avalanche not everyone in the hotel is able to be evacuated.

The people left at the hotel are cut off from help.

Kidnappings and murders ensue and Elin must figure out what is happening.

My Book Review of The Sanatorium

Ok. I’ll just say it straight out. I did not like this book.

I always feel weird giving a negative review…but I’ve got to be honest. However, this is only my opinion which may be opposite of your own. Other people have really loved this book! I’m just not one of them.

I wanted to like it. There was even a minute or two in the beginning when I thought I might like it…but…that didn’t last long.

The very best parts of this book were the descriptions of the hotel and the surrounding areas. Seriously, this author ought to write for an architectural magazine. She does an excellent job of describing the hotel.

Due to her descriptions the book The Sanatorium is incredibly atmospheric.

You can see in your minds eye this cold, minimalistic, yet luxurious hotel with huge windows overlooking the rugged and snowy alps. You shiver as you imagine the colors and textures within the hotel that mimic the stark and icy landscape without. You can picture the steam rising off of the heated swimming pool and feel the floors of the place under your feet. You sense a creeping along your spine as the author describes the pieces of the old sanatorium which were incorporated into the design of the new hotel.

The setting is truly a sinister treat.

If only the rest of the book had been as good.

So what didn’t I like?

The entire premise was unbelievable starting with the fact that if Elin were a real person with the real problems described within the book she would have never, ever, ever gone to this “party.”

Then when she started doing detective work she was so incredibly incompetent and insecure that it became annoying…and it wasn’t just her who annoyed me!

I found all of the characters including Elin and her boyfriend to be unlikeable. At first I had hope that the boyfriend would be ok, but no, he turned out to be a manipulative, condescending, mansplainer.

Elin was too troubled to ever be believable as a detective – even one struggling with PTSD. Honestly, there wasn’t a single person in the book that caused me to care whether or not they survived.

Nothing about the plot was particularly compelling and a lot of it did not make sense. I didn’t like the way the point of view jumped around, the twists weren’t particularly believable, and there were way too many gaps in the story.

Then there was the ending. Suddenly, the mystery was all wrapped up. It was as if the author got tired of writing, pulled the ending together in a few sentences, lifted her hands from the keyboard, sighed, yawned, and said, “Dang, I’m glad that’s over with.”

There was also an odd little epilogue that seemed to be setting everything up for a sequel.

This book was a definite no for me.

I’m always up for a great book discussion so let me know if you agree…or disagree!

snowy, grey, swiss alps. Book review of The Sanatorium

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