Book Review: The Sanatorium

Welcome aboard, train wreck.

Sorry it’s been a while. I needed to get my brain back in check. I’ve got a lot going on and wasn’t really handling any of it well. So, instead of dealing with my problems, I chose socially acceptable escapism and dove into my books again.

That’s good for you because that means I get to tell you about the books. And I need someone to talk to about this book. Because wow.

The Sanatorium: A Novel

by Sarah Pearse 

The Sanatorium: A Novel
by Sarah Pearse

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. . .

About the Author

Sarah Pearse

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes. You can find Sarah on Twitter @SarahVPearse and Instagram @sarahpearseauthor

The review that made me pick this book up was “The Shining with a full house.” That was from People magazine. It makes me wonder if they actually read the book. I would say it was more like a closed room murder mystery. So, think “And Then There Were None,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” or “Death on the Nile.” Just a little more intense.

In this book you have Elin and her fiancé meeting Elin’s brother and his fiance for an engagement party at this uber swanky hotel. A storm falls on the hotel. And inside. People go missing. Bodies show up. As the storm covers everything up, Elin uncovers history, mystery, and secrets.

This is the first in a series. The second one is coming out in July. And I’m totally going to get it.

The Retreat: A Novel Kindle Edition

by Sarah Pearse 

The Retreat: A Novel 
by Sarah Pearse

This presented to me as a horror. In that realm, it doesn’t match up. Like I said, this is more of a crime drama, thriller, mystery. In those areas, this excelled.

Spoiler alert: Feel free to skip

Having this compared to The Shining, I was expecting some paranormal, supernatural, ghosts, possessions, poltergeist activity. There is none. It alludes to it. Even sets up for some seriously spooky stuff to go down. But nope. It’s people.


Elin irritated me. Her unwillingness to move on from tragedy is frustrating. And I totally understand why her fiance and brother and boss are all like, “What are you doing? We need answers or we’re out.”

Spoiler alert: Feel free to skip

Elin has been spending her whole life hating her older brother and ruminating on the death of her younger brother. Literally, this one event is the driving force of her whole life. And then she finds the truth and is like, “Oh wow. Really? OK cool. Thanks.” Like, chick, what? I feel like that would have been an earth shattering, soul shattering moment. That very possibly could have been the dark night of the soul moment. But instead she accepts the news like someone being told the copy machine is down. So confusing.


The story absolutely had me from start to finish. As a trauma survivor, the message of moving on, finding yourself, and still trying to hold it together was pretty on point.

I did have one note about a word/expression the author used. A lot. And that’s “pinched.” Everyone is walking around with a pinched expression. They look like they were pinched. Their faces are pinched. Like are they all really walking around like this:

Even on the 2 occasions of happiness in this book, this is the expression I visualized everyone wearing.

I’m excited to make the 2nd in the series a pool read. Especially since it takes place on an island. How perfect!

The story moves pretty well. Everything is relevant, you just have to take notes to keep up.

I would recommend this to mystery and thriller lovers. This is a closed room, isolation murder mystery and it is amazing.

I would really like to see this as a movie. I just worry because I don’t want it ruined. It’s not sexy. It’s not pretty. It’s dark and gritty and not gory. If it were picked up for a movie, I would really hope they would keep to the book.

Did I mention someone made a playlist for it on Spotify?


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