Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept. Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac. And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancee Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic. But no-one has realised yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in…

Title: The Sanatorium

Author: Sarah Pearse

Publisher: Transworld

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Crime


A trip to a newly opened hotel to celebrate her brother’s engagement is supposed to be a chance for Elin to relax. But when a body turns up floating in the pool and her sister-in-law goes missing, her expertise as a police detective is needed. There’s something much bigger at play and with extreme weather conditions and no outside help, things are about to get much worse…

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The thriller element combined with the rich and constant descriptions of an atmosphere blanketed by piles of snow really had me hooked. I loved the setting that Pearse chose for this story – an isolated hotel with a troubled past, on top of the mountains in extreme weather conditions that cut off the characters from the rest of the world – as it plays a big part in creating an eerie atmosphere that felt so real. Throw into that disappearances, murder, mutilation and terrifying looking gas masks and it was enough for me to be on the edge of my seat. The characters also play a major part in the enjoyability of this book. They were all believable with their own motives and secrets which I appreciated as it really kept me guessing. Seeing everything from Elin’s point of view was brilliant as she’s battling her own demons as well as taking on the case. This almost gave us two stories for the price of one with Elin trying to get the bottom of her own personal problems with her brother while trying to figure out what’s going on at the hotel. This also gives us a break from the murder plot line and helped keep everything flowing and ensured that the pacing was consistent, with the big reveals coming at the perfect time.

I also want to take a moment to praise the who-dunnit aspect of this thriller – without giving any spoilers. About ten chapters from the end, we think we know who the killer is and soon after their motive is revealed. But when, a few chapters later, that can’t possibly be the whole truth and we find ourselves on a wild goose chase of sorts, trying to figure out what happened. As the book comes to a close we think we know it all, the killer and their motives have all been revealed. But an unidentified watcher waits in the epilogue and it’s obvious that something sinister still lies in wait. I must admit that when the first killer is revealed I was skeptical as to why we needed another ten or so chapters as I felt they would be unnecessary – how wrong I was!

As for what I disliked, I would note that initially there are a lot of references to people and past events that we don’t understand as there’s not much context. All of this is later revealed and provides extra facets to the story but there was a bit of confusion in the beginning. This might not be the case for all readers but it had me trying to play catch up from early on.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a bit of atmosphere with their thrillers and murder mysteries that will keep them guessing right up until the last page.

Rating: 4/5

Recommend?: Yes

Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

4 thoughts on “Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s