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Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands Book 1) by [Fine, Sarah]
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Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands Book 1) Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,242 customer reviews

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Length: 450 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"As a modern-day 'Orpheus and Eurydice,' Sanctum will be a hit with urban fantasy readers, who will love its top-notch world-building, page-turning action, and slow-developing romance." —School Library Journal

"In this well-developed concept of the afterlife, details are well-executed and the setting is described flawlessly. Without a doubt, readers will look forward to the next installment of the Guards of the Shadowlands series." —Library Media Connection

"Many original, interesting ideas create this complex world and creatures lurking through the afterlife. [Readers] will be excited to find this is first of a trilogy." —VOYA

"This is one of my favorite books of this year! Smart and sexy." —Reading Teen blog

"Dark, gripping, and impossible to put down. Sanctum is smart, original, and pulls no punches—just like Lela, one of the strongest heroines I've ever met." —Erica O'Rourke, author of Torn

"Theology be damned, though: Lela and Malachi are both likable protagonists, and readers will be happy…this trilogy opener has a lot going for it. " —Kirkus

From the Back Cover

    The stubble on his jaw scraped against my temple as he spoke. "You said you sneaked into the city. Didn't you arrive at the Suicide Gates?"

    "No, not really. When I . . . died, I arrived outside, in a field. But I saw the city, and I knew that's where she was. I couldn't stay out there when I knew Nadia was trapped in here."

    "Are you telling me you arrived in the Countryside and chose to come into the city? To rescue your friend?" He sounded completely baffled.

    I clenched my teeth. "I have to find her. It's the only reason I'm here."

Product Details

  • File Size: 1738 KB
  • Print Length: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (October 16, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 16, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007KOR0Z2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,523 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was excited to read this. The premise is unique and interesting -- A girl determined to save her best friend embarks on a rescue mission in a special section of hell reserved for those who commit suicide.

So, you'll notice right away that this book deals with some pretty heavy issues - depression, addiction, abuse and suicide are major themes in the story, and rape is also implied. Yeah, I know - sounds like kind of a downer right? But don't worry, these weighty subject matters are skillfully and delicately dealt with, and are tempered nicely with Lela's frank and sometimes even witty narration.

The writing is pretty good for the most part, although there were some scenes that felt a little disjointed. I hate it when authors try to ram details down your throat and thankfully, that is not done here. The setting is artfully described and I had a vivid picture of our little corner of hell. The world-building is adequately done, although there's definitely still a lot of things left unexplained but I'm guessing that's being left for the next book.

All that being said, there was an aspect of this book that I really didn't care for, and it happened to be something that is hugely important to me -- the characters. I really liked the main character, Lela - at first. As the story goes on, however, we see that she has a habit of making really STUPID decisions. It was irritating. Look I don't need or want my protagonists to be perfect, but when their character flaw is "dumb idiot", it's kind of a turn off for me. (*mild spoiler - Also, this is just a personal pet peeve of mine so I didn't take away a star for it, but towards the end of the book the author uses one of my most hated cliches: the Misinterpreted Overheard Partial Conversation. Ugh.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished Sanctum, and it was AWESOME for any age of reader. I am over 40. I read it in a day in a half. Beautifully written, the characters were well developed, although I would have liked the relationship between Lela and Nadia to have been developed a bit more before Lela's journey. Lela is a high school senior who has a lot of emotional baggage, who loses her best friend, Nadia, to suicide, and while in mourning, accidentally falls off a cliff to her death. She then realizes she is in heaven, but upon learning Nadia has not reached heaven, and is in a part of hell reserved for suicides (which I perceived to be a kind of purgatory), she heads for the dark city in search of her friend.

Lela encounters one of the guards of the city, Malachi, and with his help she embarks on a seemingly impossible quest to locate Nadia and somehow get themselves out of the dark city and into the countryside (heaven). A romance develops between Lela and Malachi along the way, and there are dangerous twists and turns, all culminating in an unexpected ending which left me wanting more. I was relieved to see a second book is coming out next year and I can't wait. The dialogue was smart and believable, and the plot twists clever. Also, the descriptions of the scenery were so well done I could see everything in my mind's eye very clearly. I look forward to reading more from this author and hope the story becomes a movie. I was a huge fan of Hunger Games but I have to say I think Sanctum was better.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When I read the book description, I was very excited about this book, since the theme sounded incredibly promising. Maybe it was just my expectation that this book would be a lot more like the "His Dark Materials" Trilogy by Philip Pullman - and a lot less low-brow Twilight-ish.

#Probably Spoiler Alert

The first pages were promising, the main character Lela is presented as flawed with a problematic history. I liked that, because one of my fears were, that this was gonna be a stereotypical "angelic" girl.
However, things soon started to go downhill for me.

1. Character Development
I felt like there was none whatsoever. The characters on the contrary became less and less convincing. Lela is so determined to get her friends soul out of hell - however, her most important concern seems to be Malachi, and 'how much she wants to touch him when she really shouldn't have those feelings'. Sorry, but that just made me go "Duh... you are in hell trying to save your friends soul (and protect your own) and THAT is what you're most worried about?" It wasn't believable. And the frequency with which those thoughts and conversations occur, were a clear overkill. Which brings me to

2. Romance
This novel should be clearly labeled as a romance on high-school level. Everybody purchasing this book expecting something spiritual, or even philosophical, (or even just a mature, well-developed love story) will be horribly disappointed.
I don't know anything about the author, but there were a couple of times while reading, that I was wondering how old the author was. The idea of love and romance portrayed is such an immature one, that only teens (or immature adults) would find this kind of story appealing.
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Format: Kindle Edition
It took me almost a month to read Sanctum, I drove my blogger bestie to distraction because of it but sometimes a book comes along that is...Magic and you're so caught up in it's world that you never want to say goodbye. My last experience of this was reading Harry Potter so Sanctum was a very special book indeed.

It had everything I could possibly want in YA. Strong, sassy, confident heroine who's likeable, NOT perfect, willing to sacrifice her happiness for her FRIENDS rather than a man, a hero who's honourable, kind, not abusive, not manipulative, who has standards and values, and a story of hope, love and courage. The FEELS! It's taken me almost a month even sit down and *think* about writing this and heads up I will not do it justice. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

Lela has had a tough life, she's dealt with things no child should ever have to deal with and to protect herself she's crafted a hardened mental shell to shield herself from trusting anybody with her heart and body. When Lela meets Nadia - seemingly perfect, peppy, high-school queen bee and saves her life, Lela is the one who ends up being saved. For the first time in her life she has a friend who cares for her, wants to protect her and pulls her into the land of the living. When tragedy strikes and Nadia kills herself Lela is left bereft. Why would this girl who has everything going for her, friends, family, college want to take her life? Sinking into depression, Lela seeks answers no-one can provide. On the day she finally lets go of her friends ghost Lela's own life ends by accident and the place she's only seen in her nightmares becomes a frightening reality.
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