The Sacrifice Box, Martin Stewart ARC Book Review

Hello humans! Those who follow me on Twitter (you should) may have wondered what prompted the following tweet:

Well it was this book. An ARC of which I picked up at YALC and therefore felt obligated to read. Honestly, I am glad that I did. I’ve been trying to push myself out of my regular genre every now and then just as a bit of a palette cleanse and I don’t get more out of my comfort zone than when I read horror/gory books.

Goodreads Summary:

Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.

Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact.

As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town’s history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all: one of them.

I will start by saying that, while I have not sat down and watched Stranger Things (see above tweet) but my husband – still feels weird saying that – watches it and so I’ve had a bit of exposure to it, also I exist as a human on the internet so it’s been a bit unavoidable. My point is, you can hardly help to see the influence of the popularity of Stranger Things on the publication of this book.

Can I say that if you enjoyed ST you’ll definitely enjoy this? Not my call to make unfortunately. Maybe? There are more women? But less Winona which can never be a good thing in my opinion.

But moving on to the actual book. There were some great elements to this book that for the most part came together to create an entertaining read.

For example, some of the descriptions of the more graphic elements of the book actually made my skin crawl, something of the combination of plant and animal sets my teeth on edge (I’m thinking of you ‘bloodoak’ in The Edge Chronicles) so that was particularly effective.

What I didn’t fully get from this book was a sense of scale. The whole thing is set on a island, with an underlying theme of moving away and around small communities, but you never fully get a sense of the size of the island, what’s there beyond the limited places the characters visit and the few minor characters we meet along the way. If you’re limiting yourself to a small setting the worldbuilding doesn’t need to be limited as well.

Something about this book which also didn’t quite meet the mark for me was how young the characters felt, despite the fact that they certainly weren’t children, more like teenagers. Perhaps it was the things chasing them, a ‘possessed’ doll and teddy bear for example, that aged this down somewhat. Not that I’d ever suggest younger children read this, life is scary enough, but something about the dialogue perhaps just feels off.

As I say, this isn’t my typical genre so I can’t fault the gore or the fear, even though they aren’t my favourite things. This is a great concept for a book of this kind and I certainly haven’t read anything similar. I won’t spoil it for you, but the ending, in my opinion, was a little bit of a cop out, I will let you make up your own mind.

My rating: 3/5 stars

What say you? Do you read a lot of books like these? What should I be looking out for? Let me know in the comments below!

J

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