Book Review: Sanctuary by V.V. James

“Sanctuary is the perfect town… to hide a secret.”

Published in 2019, Sanctuary by V.V. James is set in the small town of Sanctuary where a community is ripped apart after the town’s star quarterback is killed at a party. It seemed to be a tragic accident, but everyone knows that his ex-girlfriend, Harper Fenn, is the daughter of a witch β€” and she was there when he died. Was Daniel’s death an accident, revenge β€” or something even more sinister? As accusations fly, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a witch-hunt… and the town becomes no sanctuary at all.


I’ve had this book on my shelf for years so I made sure that I got around to reading it this Halloween, but I have to admit that my expectations were pretty low.

But now I wish I had gotten to it sooner, as Sanctuary is an intriguing and twisty mystery that skillfully brings witchcraft into a modern-day setting.

It’s a difficult book to categorise as I would say that it’s a contemporary fantasy combined with some young adult elements, but there is also a criminal investigation at the centre of it all. But I think it all works really well, and everything is brought together brilliantly to make an original and gripping story.

With an engaging and diverse set of characters, the story explores relationships of all kinds – from families, friendships and marriage to most of all, the loyalties of a close-knit community. And although you want to take sides in this story, James does a fantastic job of showing that not everything is black or white, and that we all have our own experiences that shape our beliefs.

The characters are all compelling and the author also addresses some important issues especially involving its younger characters. But the aspect I loved most of all was seeing how quickly a community can go backwards in their beliefs when they are faced with a problem, and the reality of a modern-day witch hunt when hysteria, often exaggerated by the media, can set in.

It’s a very clever story which James handles exceptionally to ensure that every theme and genre has its purpose. The only thing that slightly let me down was the ending which I thought felt a little chaotic with everything going on, so the story wasn’t able to reach the conclusions I was hoping for.

But if you’re like me and have had this book sitting on your shelf for a while, I definitely recommend that you pick it up soon!

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