Book Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

Author: Jennifer McKissack
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

After the untimely death of her aunt, Cecilia Cross is forced to return to Sanctuary, a rambling, old mansion that crowns a remote island off the coast of Maine. Cecilia is both drawn to and repulsed by Sanctuary. The scent of the ocean intoxicates her, but she’s also haunted by the ghosts of her past—of her father and sister who died there, of her mother who was torn away from her and sent to an asylum, and of the vengeful spirit of a woman wronged. Flooding memories leave Cecilia shaken, desperate to run away and forget her terrible family history.

But then a mysterious guest arrives at Sanctuary: Eli Bauer, a professor sent to examine Sanctuary’s library. Cecilia is intrigued by this strange young man who seems so interested in her—even more interested in her than in the books he is meant to be studying. Who is he and what does he want? Can Cecilia possibly trust her growing feelings for him? And can he help her make peace a tragic past and a haunted present?

Luminous and evocative, Sanctuary is a remarkable exploration of love and loss—and the ghosts that come back to haunt us


Special thanks to Emma from Miss Print who let me adopt an ARC of this book!

This story is a great one to be immersed in during the month of October, with the fall season and coming closer. It was so atmospheric to read this book with the crisp, cool air of autumn biting my skin and a pumpkin spice latte in hand (compliments to Starbucks). Sanctuary gives a suspenseful and quiet ghost story that, although thrilling, gives a sense of contentment to match the changing color in leaves during the season of fall. 

We start off with the main character Cecilia Cross going to the place she used to live, Sanctuary. It’s not really the best of circumstances, considering the fact that her aunt, sister, and grandma died there, and her mother was committed to an asylum. Cecilia’s uncle hates her for some reason and a handsome but mysterious professor is also residing there. They’re not the only ones, though. There are ghosts haunting Sanctuary, and Cecilia may be the one most connected to them all.

Cecilia’s character grows throughout the story as she discovers more and more about her ancestors and Sanctuary’s past. In turn, revelations are found among her family members, dead and alive. McKissack gives a beautiful and haunting description of Sanctuary that just mesmerized me from the beginning. Eli, the professor, is a cute love interest that knows more than he should. Him and Cecilia’s romance isn’t all-consuming or burning or anything. It’s a quiet one that is deep in emotion but mild in expression. This makes sense, considering Cecilia isn’t the type to show lots of emotions or talk about personal matters in front of people. She is considered a “witch,” and who knows? Maybe she is.

Sanctuary leaves an important message about a sense of belonging and where your home – and heart – is. It’s also a perfect read for this time of year, where ghouls and ghosts are coming into town for festivities (aka Halloween hehe). Don’t be fooled by the rating – it didn’t exactly “wow” me for a high rating but it was certainly enjoyable to read. This gothic tale will probably be one I’ll revisit whenever I want a haunting yet satisfying story of a girl who finally discovers where she belongs.


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Sanctuary by Jennifer McKissack

  1. Eep. Not sure how I feel about the ghosts. I’m pretty weak when it comes to ghosts and stuff like that (recently I was at the cinema and the trailer for Paranormal Activity 5 came on… I had to cover my ears and close my eyes). But the self-discovery aspect of it sounds interesting, as does the cute romance 🙂

  2. This sounds like a great Halloween read but I would definitely have to read this one with the lights on … I am a scaredy cat. This one is definitely on my radar though! I will tell all my brave friends about it 😉

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