Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they’d love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it’s here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.
Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined. (goodreads.com)
Old, creepy carnivals? Yes, please. So much so it’s my wedding theme. Just not so much creepy. So yeah.
Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that SANCTUM didn’t pack as much of a punch as ASYLUM but that’s to be expected of sequels. With that being said SANCTUM still had its moments and I grabbed them with all my might. I liked the story that was being told but I didn’t necessarily like where it went. I didn’t hate it but I wasn’t thrilled with it either.
Dan, Abby, and Jordan had a much more solid bond this time around and could focus more on the things that were happening instead of getting bogged down with emotions and trying to read between the lines. When you go through the crazy stuff together that they have you can pretty much just cut through the crap and get right to the point. So there were very few angsty moments and the story stayed its course throughout.
The carnival part of it was a little thin and not wholly relevant for the story but necessary in order to get certain aspects of it rolling on down the line. It effectively was the beginning of all of the troubles and like what tends to happen with Dan and the past what happened then started to happen to him in the present. The books like cycles like that and because Dan has an inexplicable link to his old family member it’s to be expected that the stories make these kinds of loops. That doesn’t mean it won’t feel a little overdone but I think once that tone is set it’s hard to break it. I’d like to hope in book three the past doesn’t repeat itself yet again but I wouldn’t know; I haven’t read it yet.
I wasn’t a fan of the whole secret society part of the story. While as readers we know that Daniel Crawford the original was involved in some crazy crap and was performing all sorts of experiments on people but where SANCTUM took it was a little much. I’ll refrain from spoiling the book but it went a bit too far outside my suspension of disbelief and pulled me out of the story a bit. Plus, in the same vein as the story loops I just mentioned the ending has a bit of deja vu going on and it watered it all down for me, which was disappointing. I did like kid!Daniel Crawford through. Super creepy and I think that part of the Daniel character is far more substantial than adult!Daniel because creepy children are creepy.
That stuff aside I still think it certainly had its creepy moments. It branched off the campus even more and brought in creepy old houses and again, the creepy carnival with accompanying eerie photos that would send prickles up my spine because they made what was already fashioned in my mind into something even more horrifying than what my brain could cook up. The story seems to be bringing the three main protagonists even closer together and I like watching their friendship grow even stronger as the books go on. But it’s not necessarily a happy friendship. It is strained and stressful and the three of them are well aware that they’re friends because of awful things happening to them and it’s a constant source of strain for all of them. It makes it all the more realistic for me, because it’s so imperfect.
So the story went a little off the rails toward the end but certainly not enough that I’m not going to keep reading. SANCTUM was still creepy, with great imagery, solid characters, and the over-arching story is something that’s hooking me along from one book to the next because it’s all leading to SOMETHING. I just need to find out what.