Cover Image: The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary

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Member Reviews

although this wasn't the most original of story lines it was quite an enjoyable book. Taking the view of 4 different pregnant workers and i could relate to them which helped. All the guests have there own secrets. this was a light read and i found it very entertaining
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I loved this book. There’s something unique about this author’s style that really compels you to keep reading - I can’t quite put my finger on what - but like her others, the story was pacy and engaging. Most of the characters have some aspect that you can identify with- and the tension is so well sustained.

Great characterisation, unexpected twists and turns - a really enjoyable read!
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I have mixed feelings with this book. The premise and concept of it were fantastic, the writing incredible, and I found myself sat in those tents with the women. However, the ending just felt a bit meh for me, which was disappointing after such a fantastic build up. Not a bad book  by any stretch, but a bit anti-climactic
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Another thriller review from me, but this is my first Charlotte Duckworth read. It will not be the last!
The Sanctuary is about four women on a prenatal retreat in the countryside of Devon, ran by the alternative Selina and her partner Will. Sisters Nicky and Bonnie are on this retreat, trying to bond over their joint pregnancies, despite their 20 year age gap. Instagrammer and journalist Georgia is also attending, and the prickly and aggressive Poppy. There are many secrets here, and not just amongst the guests…
This is a tense and sinister read – my favourite kind! The story is fast paced and punchy, flitting between perspectives and moving the story along with different sections set at different times of day. Secrets are revealed, adding more tension to the story as you are waiting for the explosive reveals! Duckworth gives each of her leading ladies such a clear and distinctive voice you are never left second guessing which perspective you are reading. Four very different characters have come together in a way they may never have done if not for this retreat, and their reactions and personalities are both relatable and believable.
I will say that as it is predominantly about pregnant women and children I will give a content warning for discussions about fertility, pregnancy, babies, child loss and anti-vaccinations.
Compelling and addictive reading! 5 star
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Fantastically twisty and exhilarating thriller from an author at the top of her game!

I am a big fan of Charlotte Duckworth’s psychological thrillers and The Sanctuary is another string to her bow. It is laden with all the elements that Duckworth writes so perfectly: dysfunctional relationships, motherhood, toxicity, topical social critique and tightly plotted tension. I always know that there will be an increasing amount of tension, a host of secrets, unpleasant but human characters and a puzzle at the heart of the story that will keep me guessing. Duckworth delivers this every time and The Sanctuary is another unputdownable read!

The narrative is written from the four viewpoints of all of the women attending the retreat and the hostess, Selina. Despite reading events and thoughts from so many different narrators, it’s never confusing who’s chapter you are reading, as Duckworth has imbued an authentic and distinctive voice into each of her characters. I also found it a great way to tell this story, as it helped build a sense of mistrust and unease around all of them. It was hard to know who was being truthful and who was hiding something shocking. Needless to say, everyone has secrets in this book and the gradual unravelling of these is a really exciting and enjoyable part of the book. The format used works really well here too, as the novel is set into a number of sections based on the activities or time of day the chapters are set during (e.g. The Journey or The Evening). Each of these sections opens with a mysterious, unknown narrator and these passages really heighten the tension, propel the narrative forward and provide continuous mystery. There are a number of brilliant revelations that also keep the plot evolving at a steady pace, continually heightening the sense of foreboding. Duckworth effortlessly creates this expanding sense of unease and I enjoyed how this was reflected in the weather within the narrative. The drama and catastrophe blows in like the stormy weather does, building to a tempestuous conclusion that surprises like cracks of thunder and illuminates readers like a flash of lightning. Duckworth has built a narrative that has so many different, engaging strands and these all come together in a fascinating finale, as well as revealing the last and biggest if it’s clandestine truths.

As with all of Duckworth’s books that I’ve read, this story is a thought-provoking and topical social critique too. The various sides of motherhood are explored and in particular the vulnerability of women in pregnancy is called into question. As a father who has recently supported his wife through two pregnancies, this side of the novel really impacted me. It was so interesting to think about how much faith we put in others (both medical and non-medical ‘professionals’) and actually how easy it is for people to manipulate this, particularly for those pregnant for the first time. As well as this overarching theme, Duckworth suffuses the narrative with a number of other intriguing concepts. Relationships are explored in great depth and each of the characters has complexity within their closest ones. The narrative is a rich feast of themes and things such as loss, paternity status, anti-vaccination views, toxic parent/child relationships, the role of the mother, the timing of pregnancy and maternal age are all explored in detail. Duckworth is a master at combining the maternal experience with a much darker and sinister underlying plot, which is gripping to read.

The final aspect of the novel that I really enjoyed was the setting. The location of the retreat is so visceral and I could picture every aspect of The Sanctuary. The beauty and luxury are a brilliant facade for the dark, decaying heart at the centre of the location and some of the lead characters. The isolation of the retreat not only helps build the required tension and sense of helplessness, it also brilliantly symbolises aspects of all of the women’s pregnancies. At some point, all of them have felt alone and vulnerable. The grandness of Selina and Will’s home is a visual representation of the greed and excess pregnancy can generate for those who manipulate it - I mean, who doesn’t want to give their baby the best of everything (even before birth!). For me, the location was as much of a character as the humans and I felt transported to it whilst I read the book.

I find Duckworth’s books are effortless to read, as I am always completely engrossed in them. Her writing style is so engaging and I am already excited to read what comes next from this amazing thriller author!
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I’ve never read this author before. I’m also a person that lives a spa break. I’m going to give my friends a bit of side eye from now on.  Good book  and I fled through it really quick so in my opinion really worth your time.
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An easy read and fast to read thriller about four pregnant women who spend time at a retreat. A good premise but I didn't feel the tension I felt I should. Turns out there are LOADS of secrets here and no one you would really want to go on a retreat with in real life. I still enjoyed it though and fancy a spa myself now (yes I realise that is weird after reading this novel!)
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Thanks to NetGalley, Quercus Books and Charlotte Duckworth for the ARC of The Sanctuary.

First up, I am a big fan of Charlotte Duckworth - having read and loved her previous two titles, The Perfect Father and Unfollow Me. I was really looking forward to reading The Sanctuary and it didn't disappoint, despite being little more complex than her previous reads.

The book is set at a luxury pregnancy yoga retreat - a group of women attend for a weekend of prenatal luxury = each with different motives for being there.

Nicky - the older mum of two who has accidentally become pregnant for the 3rd time and isn't sure how she feels about it.
Bonnie - her 22 year old sister, who has an unplanned pregnancy with a mystery father
Georgia - the journalist pregnant with her new boyfriend and who is staying for free in exchange for an honest review
Poppy - Pregnancy again after the tragic loss of her daughter 

Selina - the host, needs this weekend to be a success, but has her own challenges too. Her husband is barely speaking to her and then there's her son, who must stay away from the guests if she has any chance of keeping her secrets hidden.

This book has a Lucy Foley feel to it, and with lots of different perspectives, you do have to have your wits about you at the beginning as the character building and backstories are built up. 

The weekend ends up being FAR from tranquil and relaxing, with sinister turn after sinister turn. There are lots of twists and reveals and this book kept me reading long into the night. I certainly didn't see the ending coming.

Some of the topics in the book are potentially triggering and contentious, but for me, that didn't detract from what was another great thriller from Charlotte.
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An easy to read page turning psychological thriller. Lots of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and just the right amount of menace throughout!
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I was really excited to read this book, and it didn’t disappoint.

The characters were brilliant, the setting was great, and the story was really well plotted.
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A quick easy read, told from different perspectives everyone who has their own secrets to hide which unfold throughout the book. No shocking twists but overall enjoyable.
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This is a competently written, tense psychological thriller about a group of pregnant women attending a yoga retreat for some prenatal luxury. Which doesn’t exactly sound immediately suspenseful, but believe me it is!

As well as the usual nerves and pre-baby worries, each of the women appears to be concealing a secret. As the weekend progresses, sinister events begin to occur. Everyone has something to hide and no one is who they seem.

The story is told from multiple viewpoints, which really helps define the individual personalities here. The author has created some really engaging, believable characters and the idyllic retreat with it’s lavish bell tents and well tended grounds is cleverly and atmospherically portrayed.

The book is full of twists and unexpected reveals, which I loved and certainly kept me turning the pages late into the night.

I definitely recommend this book and eagerly await Charlotte’s next novel.

Thanks to the author, publishers Quercus Books and Net Galley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

This book focuses on a group of pregnant women who go to a relaxing retreat for the weekend called The Sanctuary. They go there to release some pressure, and to get mindful tips from the lady who runs it, who is qualified in all things pregnancy and childbirth. As the weekend flows on odd things start to happen, and slowly but surely secrets are revealed about each member of the retreat, include the owners. 

This was a great read and a real page turner. Some secrets I guessed, but the rest I hadn’t and really left me shocked at some of them. The characters were all great, and I especially liked Bonnie and her tell it how it is attitude, and she was the complete opposite of her sister, Nicky. The woman who ran the retreat, Selina, was instantly dislikeable and really had a double personality. The story was excellently written, and the ending was perfect.
This author never fails to write excellent books.
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Charlotte is a fantastic author who knows how to write not only a captivating active story but also characters you relate to or find compelling . The sanctuary is no exception to this with the focus being on friendship,family and parenthood.  Here I forgot about my own life and was immersed in the world created by the author. I would recommend this book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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I read The Perfect Father by Charlotte last year and enjoyed it immensely so when I saw the opportunity to read her newest book, I didn’t think twice. The Sanctuary is a twist-a-minute, easy read and while it isn’t the most original plot line, the story flowed well and I quite happily read big chunks at a time.

It started off rather slowly in my opinion but after a few chapters, the fast pace set in and it didn’t really let up from there. However towards the end, there were so many secrets and plot twists thrown in the mix that it started to feel slightly unbelievable - but it is fiction after all! I think the best thing about the story are the characters, they were portrayed well and it was interesting trying to uncover who was hiding what.

This isn’t a book that will be ingrained in my mind for a long time but it’s a perfectly entertaining read.
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Rating:  3.0/5

This is my first experience of Charlotte Duckworth's work, but I dare say that I will be back for more in the future.  I wouldn't say that it is the best example of its type - nor is it the most original - but it is entertaining, easy to read, flows well and generally progresses at a good pace.  

The premise put me very much in mind of Cally Taylor's "Her Last Holiday", which was set in a self-help wellness retreat and where one of the characters who signed up for the group had an ulterior motive for being there.  In "The Sanctuary" the action takes place at a yoga retreat for pregnant women where one of the participants has an ulterior motive for signing up to it.  In addition, both books have a mystery at the core of the story, but also touch on family (particularly sibling) relationships and the impact that unrevealed secrets can have on future events.  Both novels also raise questions about the rôle and motivations of self-styled, self-help groups and the, often charismatic, people who run them.

If you are not a fan of multiple points of view being expressed in your reading material, then this may not be the book for you.  In total, the narrative is delivered from the viewpoints of seven different characters, so you do need to keep your wits about you in order to keep track of which character is describing events at any given time.  Thankfully, for the most part, Charlotte Duckworth does a decent job of giving each of the protagonists a clear and distinct voice - though there were odd occasions when I needed to flick back a few pages to check.  The changes in character narration are well signpotsed throughout, so that certainly helps.  However, slightly disconcertingly, six of the seven points of view are written in the first person with the remaining one viewpoint being written in the third person.  I would be interested to know what the author had in mind when she opted to do this.  I have had some thoughts regarding the possible reasoning behind the decision, but none that have fully persuaded me of the merits of the mechanic in this instance.

If, like one of the characters in this novel, you love the kind of plot twist that 'Comes striaght out of nowhere and bam!  Hits you between the eyes' then the latter stages of this book could be right up your street.  Personally, I prefer a plot twist that has alll the necessary clues provided along the way - even if they are quite well hidden.  Then the author is at least giving the reader the opportunity to piece things together, rather than simply blindsiding the audience by producing a "rabbit out of the hat" style twist that could only ever be guessed at, rather than properly deduced.

I am conscious that this review may read as though as though I hated "The Sanctuary", but I will finish by reiterating what I said at the outset:  Although it has some shortcomings it is, nonetheless, an enjoyable and entertaining novel.  I may not class it amongst the better books in this genre, but I would still happily recommend it as a worthwhile read.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for supplying an ARC in return for an honest review.
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Four pregnant women arrive at an exclusive yoga retreat for a five-star weekend of prenatal pampering. The location is idyllic, remote farm with nature all around. But of course, things are never what they seem. All hide something, even the hosts. And secrets can be deadly.

The novel is twisty, full of tensions and striving for perfection. Be the best mother, wife, partner, woman. To achieve and live by highest standards. But we’re fallible, because we’re human. It’s an impossible challenge, and the only option we have is to fail. And so we do. We fail, we beat ourselves up, we promise to try harder and then we fail again. 

Compelling read full of drama, but in many areas incomplete.
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Oh I was really disappointed with this book.  A perfect location, 4 pregnant women expecting a relaxing weekend at the beautiful countryside sanctuary.  No-one is quite who they seem or they have a hidden agenda, this includes the guests and the staff so I was all set for a nail biting, edge of you seat thriller. Unfortunately it was incredibly slow and not very dramatic.  Most of the characters were quite unlikable which immediately turns me off a bit, did I really care about the who, what where and why?? I will say that the pace picked up right at the end but it wasn’t enough for me I’m afraid.  I was also left wondering what Georgia decided to do about her dilemma as that was never revealed?
 Sadly, not for me. 2.5 rounded up to a 3.
#NetGalley #TheSanctuary
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I was looking forward to reading The Sanctuary but for some reason whilst I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as I found it to be quite slow paced in places. I’m glad I stuck with the book though as I liked how Nicky and Bonnie’s relationship developed and although it wasn’t the gripping thriller I expected I enjoyed how it ended. Thank you to NetGalley,  Quercus Books and the author for the advance review copy.
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Each Chapter starts with a commentary from an anonymous person, who is it what has happened? My thoughts on who this person was changed multiple times while reading.
Then each chapter is from the perspective of one of the women starting with Nicky, Bonnie, Georgia, Poppy and then Selina the host. I found each persons story interesting and they all had me thinking about who had an ulterior motive for being there on the retreat.
The side characters of Selina’s husband Will and son Kai added some interesting subplots to the story that then became something more as we got more into the book.
I did not see the ending coming and it may have been a little rushed and a complete blindside but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it will be reading more from this author.
I found this to be a solid 4⭐ book

Published 16th December 2021
Thank you to Netgalley and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read an advance copy and provide my own and honest opinions.
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