Mundie Moms

Monday, October 8, 2012

SANCTUM Blog Tour: Author Interview / Book Review

Today I'm thrilled to have author Sarah Fine on the blog today. She's stopped by to talk about her upcoming YA debut release SANCTUM

Published by: Marshall Cavendish Children's/Amazon
To Be Released on: October 16th, 2012
Source: ARC from publisher to review
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Series: Guards of the Shadowlands Book #1
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos's best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance – hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn't just anyone – she's determined to save her best friend's soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife. 

As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she's captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city's endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn't – the dark city isn't the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate. -quoted from Goodreads

This is an unexpected read full of hope, despair and something that's a bit dark and a little beautiful all at the same time. Sarah Fine's well crafted story, and incredible world building really set the tone for this book. The imagine of Hell as a setting for a book would seem a little hard to create and make readers want to read about, but Sarah's detailed descriptions of the dark and dreary place where Lela goes to, to risk it all for her friend really added depth to her story. Journeying to hell is just as dangerous as it sounds, but while there something remarkable happens to Lela. Not only does she learn to conquer her own demons, and find that inner strength she needs to make out of this place, but she finds hope and for the first time in her life she gets a glimpse of love. It was this part of the story that made it hard for me to put down this fast paced, engaging read.

This book's world of hell is where those who committed suicide go. It was really interesting me to see how this complex world was made up. Many of those there are too hung up on themselves and the reason that drove them to commit suicide in the first place, that they don't pay any attention to anything going on around them, which also puts them in danger of not only really losing themselves, but losing their afterlife. To me that made sense to call it hell. It would be. It was interesting to me that Lela out of all people would the one to charge through the Suicide Gates to save her friend. I'll admit, Lela is someone I found to be incredibly brave, and strong, especially given all the hell this girl has gone through. Her voice was rich, and commanding, which made it easy for me to hear her. She also got on my nerves one too many times with her continuous self sacrificing ways. I can only read about that so often before I'm totally irked by a character who continues to make the same choices and rationalizations over and over again, despite knowing the grim out come of their actions.

Aside from Sarah's incredible writing, the thing I enjoyed more about this book is the relationship that is formed between Lela and Malachi. Wow was it intense, believable, slow burning, and hopeful. Malachi matched Lela perfectly. He's strong, broken like she is, smart, commanding and incredibly precise with his actions. I might have fallen for him and loved his character a bit more than I did Lela's. There was something about him that just grabbed me, and I can't even pin point what it was. I loved how the relationship between Malachi and Lela developed and grew. These two were broken in so many ways, and yet through each other they found the hope and that meaning to fight for something more. I felt that the way Sarah told their story, and created this world was incredibly engaging, because it struck a chord with me. There's so many meanings to what the characters go through, find in each other, and deal with in this dark world, yet together they become the light the other person needs, and wants. I liked the depth this story had.

This book however will not be for everyone. This may not be a book for those who are sensitive to the topic of suicide, as this plays a huge roll in the book. Lela recounts her failed attempt at suicide, her friend Nadia commits suicide and the world which Lela goes to, is the place those who commit suicide arrive to. I would also caution those who are sensitive to language, violence, and mentions of sex and sex abuse before picking up this book. There is a lot of language at the beginning of the book with the f-word, which honestly totally turned me off of the book and I almost stopped reading it. When you drop the f-word that often within the first 15 pages of the book it makes me feel that the author is trying too hard to make your main character seem "bad" or rough around the edges. Not only that, it's just excessive to me, and I personally didn't care for it. It felt out of character for Lela, or I should say I didn't buy into how often it's said. However I understood the use of the language used later on in the book.There is some violence, and mentions of sex abuse which isn't described in detail, but none the less conveys what happened to Lela. 

Everything that is mentioned in this book plays a role in who the characters are, why they fight so hard to escape their hell, and in who they become. This book has dark, gritty world, with an unexpected engaging storyline. It's one that I'm surprised I liked as much as I did, and I credit Sarah Fine's writing for that reasoning. I'm looking forward to finding out what's in store for Malachi and Lela next. 

 Hi Sarah! Thank you for stopping by Mundie Moms today! How would you describe Sanctum in 5 words or less?

Dark. Romantic. Hopeful. Action-y (sorry, that’s totally not a word)
 “unexpected” this is one I’ve seen in several reviews so far, and it makes me so happy. 

What was one of the things you enjoyed creating the most with your story, the characters, the plot line, the events that unfold?

I loved constructing my characters’ back stories, the events that made them who they are in the book. None of them came out of nowhere, and their histories are rooted in real world events. Although all the details aren’t necessarily included within the pages of the book, I was able to deepen my understanding of the characters because I spent a lot of time thinking about how they had lived (and … died). 

If you were a character in your book, who would you be friends with and why?

Probably Raphael. He’s the most understated character, the one least likely to stab someone, and has the most inside information. Or possibly Diane. She doesn’t get a lot of page time in this book, but she’s powerfully cool.

Which of your characters is most like you and in what way?

Oh, goodness. I tend to write characters I wish I was similar to rather than ones that are actually like me … but I guess I have a lot of Ana’s frank cynicism and impatience for wasting time. I can’t throw knives like she can, though, which I know must come as a big surprise.

What was your favorite line or chapter to write?

Chapter 23, no contest. I love writing the moments when strong characters are brought to their knees by the power of their own surrender. 

If you could write in one of your favorite fictional characters into Sanctum, who would it be and why?

Buffy (hey, you didn’t specify a book character!). Lela’s a huge fan. I think they’d get along smashingly. 

Thank you Sarah for stopping by Mundie Moms today
Be sure to follow Sarah via her: Blog | Website | Twitter | Facebook

You can find out more Sanctum here:


  1. Nice to see you hear. LOve your line: the moments when strong characters are brought to their knees by the power of their own surrender.

  2. I kind of skimmed this post, because I'm still reading Sanctum myself, but I love it so far. Thanks for featuring Sarah, Katie!

  3. I am a big fan of Diane, too, and hope to see her more in future books. And Raphael. And Lela.

  4. I love Sanctum and have beta read the sequel (which I loved even more than Sanctum, if that's possible). I can't wait for book three!!!!!

  5. EXCELLENT INTERVIEW! Dark and hopeful--an interesting and challenging combination. Looking forward to reading it!