You won’t want to leave…until you can’t.
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 fiancée 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 realized 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…
I absolutely love a book set in hotels, where I can imagine checking in alongside all the characters and working out which of the residents are to be trusted and which ones have arrived with a few skeletons in their luggage! I also love books set in other countries at the moment since we are not able to literally travel abroad – and Sarah Pearse has done an amazing job of letting me pack my bags and arrive at Le Sommet alongside her characters – this exciting and atmospheric read drew me in from the very first paragraph and held me captivated by its setting and genius levels of tension until its very final page.
There’s nothing more likely to spoil your trip to an exclusive spa resort than a disappearance and a sense that this is only the start of it – and this thriller certainly gets your pulse racing almost right from the start. When Will and Elin book their exclusive Swiss getaway, they were definitely not planning on the body count rising as the temperature fell. As the snow clouds gather, so too do the dark shadows of Elin’s past and we begin to wonder whether there is more to Laure’s disappearance than mets the eye. I just could not put this clever, atmospheric and gripping read down once I’d started and I’m so grateful to #RandomThingsTours Anne Cater for inviting me to participate in this blog tour – as this book was definitely right up my street!
I love immersing myself in a book over a weekend and not looking up apart from to pour myself a gin and imagine that I’m touching down on the runway and travelling there myself – and this book answered the brief perfectly. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel as all the threads of this mystery were so assuredly woven together and the tension level never let up as we begin to wonder just how many ghosts from the past are going to emerge as the novel unfolds.
I feel like you can totally surrender to this reading experience and travel to Le Sommet right alongside Will and Elin I really felt like I could imagine this stunning building with a mysterious past for myself and and found it very difficult to detach myself from this immersive reading experience that allowed me to plunge into the setting and experience the unsettling atmosphere right alongside them. We’ve all visited old buildings that seem to reverberate with echoes of the past and this is no exception – it’s this, coupled with the mysterious events surrounding Sam’s death and her fractured relationship with brother Isaac that made you feel like you really were living through these events alongside Elin. It was so tense at times that I could literally feel the hairs rising up on the back of my neck and every time I stopped reading it, I just couldn’t wait to get back to it.
I kept imagining myself lured back to Le Sommet, trying to navigate the truth for myself and wondering who was going to be the next casualty of the austere beauty of this mountain retreat as the snow fell harder. It’s difficult to imagine any sense of escape from the hall of mirrors that you feel trapped in alongside Elin. The plot is so cleverly constructed with false leads and echoes that connect, yet mislead that you’ll be addictedly turning the pages like me long unto the night. It’s a book to be devoured in great big gulps as you won’t be able to rear yourself away and I’d absolutely love to see this on screen – it’d bring a new dimension to the idea of feeling ‘chills’ and the setting would be incredible to see on the screen in real life!
Even though this ‘holiday’ was about as far removed from a relaxing spa break as you can get, I still imagined myself packing my bags and heading off to this exclusive Swiss getaway myself – it was a wonderful opportunity to escape from everything that’s so unsettling at the moment …and once you’re immersed in this smorgasbord of tension, you’ll not be able to think of anything else except how you’re going to solve it before the final chapter!
I really loved the way that Sarah Pearse draws the reader in and keeps you guessing alongside the characters and attempt to understand what exactly is going on as well as understand exactly how the two narrative voices intersect as ‘facts’ become tangled together and questions arise as to who exactly we can trust as we try andnavigate the deft twists and turns of the plot. The way that these two elements of the narrative interconnect and collide with one another was one of my favourite things about this book and it certainly does a fine job of not allowing you to put it down as it gives you a solid case of ‘one more chapter’
This was a absolutely first class debut read– and if you’re feeling absolutely fed up being stuck at home and want something to forget about what’s going on in the world – then this would be perfect, it’s so immersive! The sense of tension never lets up as you try and stay one step ahead – I hate giving spoilers so you’ll just have to buy it for yourself to find out how the secrets of the past and the events of the snow storm collide with deadly consequences. If you love a locked-room mystery for modern times that will absolutely keep you gripped then you’ll really love The Sanatorium and should treat yourself to a copy
Thank you so much to Anne Cater & Random Things Tours for aways recommending such great reads. I love being part of the blogging community with so many other fantastic book lovers and being able to share my views on the books I’ve loved is an absolute pleasure. I’ve featured this book in my Winter Reads column in 17 Degrees magazine and can’t wait to see the review in print too, as soon as lockdown is over!
Buy yourself a copy here and follow the tour to see what the other bloggers thought too
‘The Sanatorium is an absolutely splendid Gothic thriller.’ A. J. Finn
‘Wow . . . So atmospheric, clever and compulsive.’ Claire Douglas
‘A tense and seriously chilling page-turner.’ Emma Curtis
‘Everything you could want in a thriller.’ Simon Lelic
‘Dark, suspenseful and downright chilling, The Sanatorium is a triumph.’ Sally Hepworth
‘A chillingly vivid thriller in a fantastic setting.’ T M Logan
Writer On The Shelf
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 and still has a home 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