Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Converted sanatorium urned into five star hotel—-stop right there while I clear my reading calendar! I was completely sold on this intense and atmospheric debut from the opening description. Then it was picked as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick and that right there was enough to get me even more excited about this novel!

It has been getting a ton of advanced praise and so much buzz on social media but when I started reading it, it was easy to see that all the buzz was absolutely worth it! I loved the atmosphere of this book and it was exactly what I was hoping that it would be, something dark, twisty, and chilling.

I normally don’t like minimalist or super cold Norwegian/Scandinavian type thrillers but this novel has so much to recommend itself and it’s not to be missed. I also included some videos about the resort and the author talking about the book as well so keep reading to check both of those out and if you are looking for your next thriller, this is it!


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. (summary from Goodreads)


For atmosphere alone, this book gets 5 stars. The creepy and chilling feel of the hotel was pitch perfect. Fans of classic Gothic lit will find this modern tale worthy of all the praise. While I loved all the atmosphere and the general feel/tone of the book, the thing that mad it sparkle for me was the classic whodunnit-ness of the mystery. It reminded me a little of an Agatha Christie mystery with the trapped guests and how Elin worked to solve the mystery mixed with all the Gothic deliciousness of a horror story. I loved the combo and it got 5 stars in the setting category for me.

But this one wasn’t without some flaws. For all the love I had for this one, the ending left me reeling. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story as well as the creep factor of the setting, but the ending felt a little like I was being told how things went instead of being shown. Everything about this one was so strong right up until the end. The ending felt rushed for me and I had a hard time fully buying into it. But even with an ending that left me a little let down, this book was absolutely a great read.

I loved the dialogue and the characters had believable personalities and stories plus all the secrets, lies and motives for each suspect were intelligently thought out and interesting. For a debut novel this is superb even if the ending was a little meah for me. I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery and the twists were creepy and not predictable! Couple that with the atmosphere and you have a winning thriller in my book! I cannot wait to share this one with my fellow murder book club fans because I am sure they are going to love this one as much as I did.

I am eager to read another book by this author to see how she grows into her story telling style and voice. The ending needed a little refining but overall she has a winning combo in this book and a rock solid debut. Her skills can only improve and I am so excited to see what she comes up with next!

Book Info and Rating

Hardcover, 400 pages

Published February 2nd 2021 by Pamela Dorman Books

Free review copy provided by publisher, Pamela Dorman Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4 sars

Genre: gothic lit, mystery, thriller


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