“Reality denied comes back to haunt.” – Philip K. Dick
This is the second book in the Asylum series by Madeleine Roux. Just as the first book, Sanctum is a chilling book that obscures the line between what is real and what is not, what is genius and what is madness. Roux includes throughout Sanctum vintage images from carnivals and asylums, which heightens the story and imagery for readers. Sanctum is one notch up from Asylum, but still not a horror or terror book.
The book begins with Dan, now a senior in high school, at home applying to colleges and planning college visits. While staying in touch with Jordan and Abby, they plan a college visit back at NHCP to get some answers on mysterious vintage carnival photos they have received and from a visit to Felix, Dan’s former roommate now housed in a mental health clinic. When Dan, Abby, and Jordan arrive back at NHCP, they meet their hosts, select their classes, and learn very quickly that the Brookline spirits are not done with them. To add to it, a carnival is taking place right on campus for the first time in decades, just as it had when the Brookline dorm was operating.
The group slips away from classes and parties to explore a few abandoned houses in the surrounding city area, Camford. They discover the scandal that surrounded Warden Daniel Crawford extends to residents in the city, and even discover the home that Crawford grew up in. In their exploration, Abby uncovers a truth about her Aunt, Jordan gets to know his host, Cal, on a whole new level, and Dan discovers he can see things, like ghosts and memories, that others cannot which makes distinguishing reality difficult.
Their discoveries and the series of unexplained events put a strain on the group’s friendship. Some of their hosts are acting strange, even the Psychology professor is acting odd. When one of the students is discovered dead in a college building, the group uncovers a ruthless secret society terrorizing the campus. The extent to those involved is deep; can Dan, Abby, and Jordan not only survive, but put an end to it?
Sanctum is structured similar to its predecessor, Asylum. The second book in the series continues to build on the chilling premise of the first, making it suspenseful and unnerving. While there was no gore in the first book, Roux adds a little gore and a little more terror to Sanctum. She distorts the line between insanity and genius, reality and imagination to the point that the reader may not know if Dan is experiencing something real. The vintage photos that are scattered throughout the book add to the effect, creating a creepy and supernatural experience.
If you enjoyed Asylum and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, then this is a good book for you!