3.5 star, adult

Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

You won’t want to leave. . . until you can’t.

Half-hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, 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 are all in. . .



This was another one of those books I just randomly picked off the (library) shelf based on the cover and synopsis alone. Ironically, neither of which I find incredible – I almost just returned it without reading it, since I didn’t feel the strong urge to read it. However, just before it was due, I decided to just race through it, and honestly I’m fairly satisfied that I did.

The Sanatorium takes place at a newly constructed building located in the Swiss Alps, once a sanatorium turned into a fancy hotel. Elin, our protagonist, is there to celebrate the engagement of her estranged brother. However, quickly things start taking a dark turn. People start going missing, the weather gets worse and worse, all poetically coming up to a big climax as the tensions continually increase.

Although the story revolves around our protagonist, the first portion of the novel actually takes us through a series of different perspectives. This I found to be a little bit distracting, as the novel quickly introduces us to more and more characters, making it a bit hard to focus on the main story. I think I remember maybe 3-4 storylines? I suppose part of the suspense is sometimes not being able to remember every part clearly, but it also takes away some of the tension and suspense that is built when it is too diverging.

The characters in this story were quite good and well-developed. People were consistent in their character and actions, and suspicions were easily cast around as new information came to light. This really helped captivate me in the story, as each character seemed like a reasonable suspect, and each had their secrets to hide. Being a little bit invested in each character is an important aspect of a novel to me, as it really helps bind the story together (e.g. not skipping parts about characters you don’t like), and I felt that that was pretty well done here.

The suspense in this story was well done, but nothing too dramatic. There was kind of an underlying tension and suspense that was growing throughout the story, but over all, each little arc of tension and resolution weren’t too heightened. Even at some of the most tense moments, I found that the resolution came fairly quickly, and perhaps I was let off the hook almost too easily. This is obviously just personal opinion, as to how much suspense “should” take place, but for me personally, I was expecting more from the resolution of the tension. I was often left thinking: oh that’s it?

Now for my biggest gripe: the ending. Yes, it was fairly unexpected and I didn’t totally see it coming. However, that didn’t mean it was quite satisfying either. Similar to our buddy review for Don’t Look For Me, where the ending was completely unexpected but also seemingly a little bit out of nowhere, I found the ending in this novel to not give me the satisfying “aha” moment. The best moments in these kinds of suspenses and mysteries are when you finally come to the realization of how everything has panned and played out, and how everything has come to lead up to this exact moment. Let’s just say that in this novel, there is an explanation yes, but it just all seemed like explanations for explanations, and covering up loopholes, as if everything was explained in hindsight, rather than being planned from the beginning. Does this make sense at all? All in all, this ending just really didn’t do it for me.

I would say overall I did enjoy the story though. The suspense was good, the characters were good, and there was good tension in general. The story and history woven in were good, and the general intrigue was well-executed – I enjoyed all the little details of how everything was put together. Perhaps I’m just a little bit too much of a stickler for the ending, if anyone else has read this, what did you think?

Overall Recommendations

The Sanatorium takes places in a beautifully constructed new 5-star hotel (once a sanatorium) in the Swiss Alps, where our protagonist, Elin, is visiting with her boyfriend to celebrate her estranged brother’s new engagement. While seemingly luxurious in its minimalistic design, more and more strange events begin to happen at the hotel: starting with the bride-to-be going missing. What exactly is going on here at this new hotel and who is behind it all? With the heavy storm incoming, how much danger exactly has Elin walked into? This novel had good characters and decent suspense throughout the whole novel, and I would recommend it to any mystery/thriller reader who likes to focus on those elements.

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