Word of advice:
Never stay at an abandoned asylum, not even if it's been renovated into a 5-star hotel called Le Sommet, and especially not if it's located at an isolated spot in the Swiss Alps. Things never end well when it comes to asylums.
The plot: Detective Elin Warner and her boyfriend, Will, are at Le Sommet for her brother's engagement party. Not that she and Isaac get along; they haven't even seen each other in years. But Elin's on leave from her job so she has the time. And she really wants to confront Isaac about what really happened when their younger brother died all those years ago.
But then Laure, her brother's fiancee, goes missing. And she's not the first. Daniel Lemaitre, an architect working on the hotel renovation, disappeared three years ago while visiting the site. And on the same day Elin and Will arrive at Le Sommet, another employee, Adele Bourgs, gets taken by a sinister figure wearing a gas mask. Only no one's noticed her absence yet.
The snowstorm outside doesn't help matters, keeping the Swiss police from reaching the hotel.
So many mysteries! Elin's not sure she can solve any of them, but she feels compelled to try. If only everyone around her would stop keeping secrets.
So, I had a few issues with this one. First, it's more regular mystery than Gothic thriller. And while it may be set in an old asylum, that history hardly plays a role in the plot at all, which was a little disappointing. The characters do get snowed in at the hotel before the mystery is solved, so that adds some tension, but it didn't exactly make it feel super atmospheric or eerie. The characters were also hit and miss for me. I liked Elin for the most part, though some of her decisions along the way were a little stupid and frustrating. I found Will to be a bit patronizing and critical towards Elin. And I really didn't like Isaac at all at first. (Though both he and Will redeemed themselves at the end.) As for the mystery itself, I felt the pieces came together too slowly, leaving me with more questions than clues for the majority of the book. And then the reveal at the end came out of nowhere and felt very rushed and unsupported, necessitating a lot of explanatory dialogue between the characters in order to wrap things up. Needless to say, it was less than satisfying. (Oh, and I hated the epilogue!) So I didn't end up loving this one, but I got to read it with Melody
which is always fun. Be sure to check out her review
to see what she thought of this one.
Melody's questions to me:
1. What do you like and dislike of The Sanatorium?
I thought Pearse's writing overall was good, and I liked how well-developed Elin's character was, and the novel reads fast. But I disliked the ending, which kind of ruined the rest of the book for me.
2. This book has a great setting of an abandoned sanatorium being renovated into a luxury hotel. Do you think you'd ever stay in a hotel or any other buildings with a dark past?
Probably not. I'd take a tour through them. Take some pictures. But to stay overnight? I don't think I'd want to do that. Too creepy.