Sanctuary Bay

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz (2016)
-eARC Review-

sanctuary bay

YA Fiction | Thriller
4 Stars

“In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation. 

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.”

Expected Publication Date: January 19, 2016

pooled ink Review:

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Holy cannoli WHERE oh where do I start??

Okay so this book opens with a literal bang introducing the protagonist, Sarah, with the single most life-altering moment that defines her course. It then quickly skips forward to “present” day as she is journeying to a super rich, super elite, super private high school where she has been given a scholarship and a once-in-a-lifetime change to redefine the hand life has dealt her.

Although the book cruises along with this real life fairy tale and the growing hope of what a game changer Sarah has been given I couldn’t help but feel…uneasy. I smiled as she smiled, I laughed as she laughed, I celebrated as she excelled and made friends and actually began to build relationships and connections. But despite all of the hesitant life changing that is going on in Sarah’s life a small part of me kept saying that something was wrong, something was off, something didn’t feel right.

Taco Tuesday was I right.

This book was an excellent read for October particularly as Halloween is rapidly approaching. So creepy. So twisted. So wrong. So guiltily thrilling.

To toss in some of my purely emotional reactions whilst reading this book, well, here is a sampling:

Okay, yay? I’m scared to break out my pom-poms but so far so good for Sarah so …yay?

Woah. Wait. No stop don’t do it. Nuh-uh! Enough! Done! Weird freaky crazy what the hell run shut up quit talking holy heck RUN.

Okay hmm weird for certain but okay okay okay I get it…but still…


Yeah. Basically.

This book had me instantly intrigued and it didn’t let me go throughout the whole story. And, uh spoiler alert, the fact that there is no pretty sparkly bow tying it all up at the end? Kills. I mean it’s perfect for the style of story but it kills.

Yes I would definitely say that this book is fo sho creepy. And while the whole sinister plot was creepy in and of itself it wasn’t only that that gave me chills as my eyes swallowed its words without break. It was the repetitive returns to normalcy.

The book begins horrific and tragic, yes, but also not unheard of. Sarah’s past is tragic but unfortunately she’s not alone. Once she’s removed from her exhausted and crappy life and plopped down in the middle of “success central” everything is normal…well as normal as a super rich, super elite, super private school can be.

The students make friends, go through different relationships, go to class, study for exams, chat at the dining hall, watch movies, throw bon fires, and live generally (rich) normal high school student teenage lives. And then the Wolfpack enters the picture and things get crazy. Weird, sick, twisted, harsh, insane things happen and Sarah balks (understandably) but her desire for acceptance and a leg up in the real world over power her first instincts of panic and flight. She stays. And the next day? Everyone goes about campus acting completely and utterly normal.

So okay, I can deal with that and as Sarah resettles into a rhythm of life at Sanctuary Bay so do I as a reader. I feel uneasy but I move on. But then something even sicker and insane happens and that’s when I throw my hands up like HELL NO. Teeny weeny spoiler alert: branding people is NOT okay.

But then the sun rises and it’s a sunny, brand new, NORMAL FREAKING DAY. Everyone smiles, laughs, stresses about classes and homework. Everyone resettles into life. Everyone moves on full of acceptance and almost obliviousness of the night before. Personally two strikes one strike and I am OUT. But not yet for Sarah, not yet. She’s a classic and it takes her three strikes to flip out. It’s amazing how the desire for acceptance can totally warp people and dance them down the line of rationalization.

I know I’m being vague but just trust me on this. Things are crazy but then the Wolfpack sinks its claws in and really lets your mind rip. All Hell breaks loose as Sarah finally loses it (as she 100% should although I’d recommend being more covert than she was) and from then on the rest of the book spirals you down the drain of twisted psychotic free fall.

Creepiness can startle you but if this book had remained consistently and obviously insane then you’d become immune to it. You’d adjust and adapt. But because this story keeps life at a pleasant pace and then shreds it with horror only to return to its pleasant pace in the morning it keeps you on your toes, keeps you second-guessing the actions and motives, and it keeps the story interesting and yeah, incredibly creepy.

Sanctuary Bay is a YA thriller that will literally have you looking over your shoulder, squinting at authority figures, and second-guessing the lengths people will go for that delightfully sweet and sneakily addicting drug called power. It will force you to turn your eyes to the horrors humans have, can, and might commit. This book will leave you crippled from what you’ve just read and from what lies unknown up ahead.

Well written, exceedingly intriguing, and oozing with thrills and psychotic horror Sanctuary Bay will leave you limp in your chair, eyes slightly unfocused, and in need of a dose of Bromcyan to put your mind back in order. But my advice? Don’t take it.


amazon icon_tiny Purchase here: Sanctuary Bay 

Similar recommended reads: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien, Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen, Drought by Pam Bachorz

Meet Laura J. Burns!


Laura J. Burns has written more than thirty books for kids and teens, touching on topics from imaginary lake monsters to out-of-control Hollywood starlets. (Those two things have more in common than you’d think.) Laura lives in New York with her husband, her kids, and her two exceptionally silly dogs.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Joint Twitter Account: TwoHeadedWriter

Meet Melinda Metz!

melinda metz

Melinda and the lovely and talented Laura J. Burns pretty much became unofficial writing partners when they were editors at the same company. They teamed up to brainstorm story ideas, and at some point their brains fused in some key places. Later they worked on the Roswell High book series, Laura developing and editing the series, Melinda writing.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Pooled Ink OFFICIAL LOGO 2018

One thought on “Sanctuary Bay

Leave a Comment

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s