Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands #1)
A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance — hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone — she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.
As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t — the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.
Taking the initial quote from SANCTUM'S blurb: "My plan: Get into the city. Get Nadia. Find a way out. Simple." Now, we all know that nothing is simple during the teen years. And SANCTUM stays true to that course, contemplating the delicate subject of teen suicide and what really happens 'after.'
From her scattered foster care life, Lela has a different scale with which she measures life. That scale grows more unbalanced as the only friend she's ever had takes her own life. Grief and guilt are immediately evident within Lela, only adding to her already complex emotional shelf. She dreams of a place where only desolation exists and knows it's the place her friend has gone. Lela is searching, longing for closure over her friend's tragic decision. But even more for the pain of her personal past to heal and release her.
Ultimately, she ends up in the same place as her dreams. There she meets Malachi, who shares her anguish of a disturbing past with the inner turmoil that creates. Lela finds her inner and outer conflicts followed her into her afterlife - insecurities, loneliness, and longing for peace and acceptance - where Malachi has been stirring in his afterlife, healing, and moving toward a new beginning. But for Malachi, meeting Lela with her quest to save her friend means a new beginning of unknowns and uncertainties.
Fine captures the poetic beauty in such a struggle, holding the reader's attention with humor as well as the more serious; it's quite drawing. The structure of events, and personal reflections and revelations are strategically placed to feed the reader a desire for more. Surprising inner revelations direct Lela and Malachi to evolve as the story nears its climax. And the shocking ending left me only longing for Book II.
The world Fine created pieces together plausible elements in just the right places to make it believable and thought-provoking, like souls seeking frivolous things to fill their emptiness and the inability to see past those and hope. This isn't simply a YA story that draws in the reader, but a tale which urges contemplation of one's own existence and future.
? Sarah Fine, Sanctum
Sarah Fine weaves a unique story that draws you in and doesn’t let go. Lela and Malachi meet in unlikely circumstances and engage in a fierce tango of wills and emotions that leave the reader crying, laughing, dreaming, and wishing right along with them.
Lela had been tossed from foster home to foster home. She has never really fit in and does not expect to at yet another new school. Then, of all the kids at the school, she is befriended by the most popular girl at school. Lela notices right away that there is more to Nadia. The two instantly become best friends. A year later everything changes…
Nadia commits suicide and her soul is sent to “The Suicide Gates.” Lela has seen it before, briefly, when she herself tried to kill herself. But now Lela has something to live for and she will not abandon her friend to the horrors that await there.
Lela will stop at nothing to make sure that Nadia finds the peace that she deserves. Lela finds herself up against Malachi, Captain of the Guards of the Shadowlands. He is stubborn, dangerous, and very hot. Lela starts wanting and feeling things for him that she thought she would never feel.
Lela must race against time and her own fate to rescue Nadia. She will have to make a difficult decision. Will she make the right decision?