The Book of Sand

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Pub Date 6 Jan 2022 | Archive Date Not set

Talking about this book? Use #TheBookofSand #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.

Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

In the distance a group of people - a family - walk towards us.

Ahead lies shelter: a 'shuck' the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.

To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.

It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life - except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she's beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is ...

Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.

SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.

Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

In the distance a group of people - a...

Advance Praise

Unique and fearless, Theo Clare had that rare ability to lead her readers into places that were genuinely terrifying and to conjure images that would linger and continue to disturb. The Book of Sand is no exception.’ Mark Billingham

An utterly original novel from an extraordinarily creative mind, THE BOOK OF SAND is an absolute standout that’s impossible to put down. Theo Clare was by far one of the most talented, epochal writers of my generation. Her stories were vibrant, important and filled with the sorts of characters that stayed with you long after the last page. She showed a deep understanding of the things that drive us toward both good and bad—sometimes at the same time.’ Karin Slaughter

Unique and fearless, Theo Clare had that rare ability to lead her readers into places that were genuinely terrifying and to conjure images that would linger and continue to disturb. The Book of Sand...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781529135855
PRICE £12.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (PDF)
Send to Kindle (PDF)
Download (PDF)

Average rating from 91 members

Featured Reviews

A truly amazing read!
No matter what I write here is ever going to give this book the praise it deserves it really is an incredible read. I was apprehensive when I first started to read as I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sci fi fantasy some I have loved and some I just struggled my way through but ohhhh my not this book because this book transported me to another place of deserts and hardship, weird places and a fight to stay alive my head was filled with pictures and my mind full of wonder at the mystery of what was happening in a story that I will never forget.
I loved the characters all of them particularly Spider with his wonderful love for camel and of course Yma who never stopped trying to solve the puzzle of what was happening but really all of the characters were amazing and different in their own way.
Books like this one is why I read I forget everything and live in the story and that takes a brilliant author which we have here and to be able to transport the reader to a different place and time is just pure genius, this is a book that has it all and more.
I don’t have the words to describe the storyline so I’m not even going to try it’s wonderful, magnificent and everything I could have wished for and I really do hope this is not the end and we will get more in the future but I do know that may not be possible sadly.
So a book I place at the top of my favourite reads and one I will never forget I wish I could give it more than five stars because it sure does deserve it.
My thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century for giving me the chance to read the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this book, right from the beginning it grabbed my attention. It makes me think a little of books like the Maze Runner and His Dark Materials. The world building was immersive and the characters engaging. The first half has you trying to solve the mystery of how the two storylines connect and then there is a shock and the answer starts to reveal itself. There is no great cliffhanger at the end but it will obviously be part of a series and I look forward to the next book.

Was this review helpful?

This is an amazing story that I could not put down. It is unique. I have never read anything like it.
There are two story lines that come together in shocking fashion. It is a shame there is so much bad language though. I am not a fan of the ‘f’ word, which is why I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars.
From the ending it looks like this is the first in a series.
Looking forward to the next one.

Was this review helpful?

There's going to be another book right? Tell me this is going to be a Trilogy!!
I really enjoyed this (if you can't tell) the cover grabbed me from the start and reminded me of Wool but it's more along the lines of Maze Runner.
Great job

Was this review helpful?

Good grief this book was awesome! I fell into the flow of the writing immediately, and the two threads of the story were equally enthralling. Amazing characters, brilliantly crafted plot, and a setting built so perfectly it felt real... If you're a fantasy fan, this should probably be your first book purchase of 2022.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.

Was this review helpful?

Sometimes I wait a day or two before writing a review… I need to digest the book, mull over it, maybe re-read the last chapter.
This was one of those books.
I started this book going ‘ok,, I can see where this is going’….
And then suddenly a new paragraph and I sat up and went ‘Whoa, I did not see that coming’ and suddenly I was off racing to get to the end!!!
What a marvellous story, truly marvellous!
That last 50 pages or so you will need to read slowly, and read them again to absorb them!
It’s a book I will definitely be recommending and I have NO hesitation in giving it 5 stars.

I am sorry to read that Theo Clare was a pseudonym for Mo Hayden who died earlier this year. You will live forever in the hearts of the people who read and love your books. Thank you x

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the advance read.

Was this review helpful?

It took me a while to process this book. When I started it, I thought, ok, two storylines, they will converge. In a hostile sand world, a family is fighting to survive, and find a mysterious object. They are fighting to find it before others do. In the ‘other’ world, we find a more relatable word, the more real world, and our characters in this world are struggling to understand their draw to sand, and constant pull towards feeling like they have another life.

As the book progressed, drawing me in deeper and deeper, I realised this was not like anything I had read before. I was confused, engaged, and connected. Afraid for the fate of family in the sand. But what of the others on the other timeline? The realness, and rawness of the characters was beautiful. I didn’t want the story to end, because it would mean the end of my time with the family. But because it would also mean they may fail, and then what? Or if they succeeded, what next?

When the story did end, I was speechless. I had to read the ending again. I wanted someone else to read it, to talk about it. What now? What next?

Overall this story is a beautiful read, written with strength and quiet passion. The ending is a beautiful enigma, and I respect that.

*I received this book from NetGalley for review, but all opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book.

The Book of Sand grabs you, right from the start. It tumbles you headlong into the ruined world of the Dormilones, the dangers and fear they face. Running in parallel to the strange, apocalyptic world of the Dormilones Family is the story of McKenzie Strathie, a seventeen-year-old student from Virginia. The characters in both worlds are equally compelling and beautifully interwoven in a narrative that will absolutely keep you guessing until the end.

I greatly appreciated that there was such a strong emphasis on the family dynamic. If you’re looking for (forced) found family with an eerie, intense mystery? Look no further. The pacing is excellent, the atmosphere is intense, and the world is fascinating.

The best thing about this book, however, is that all the way through I found myself thinking: ‘When I read this again…’ Not if, when. Now that’s the mark of an excellent book.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Would I recommend this? Yes
Would I read a sequel? …Maybe. This is the kind of book that is most powerful as a standalone.

Was this review helpful?

A final delight from the sadly passed Mo Hayder. A fantasy series written under the pen name Theo Clare in this first volume we follow a thrown together family travelling a world of desert cities searching for the Sarkpont. With scouts exploring our world this is a wide and deep idea with lots of sublines going on and I suspect the deeper quality of the project will further unravel across the three promised volumes. This is an engrossing and very enjoyable read - the characters are well drawn and the stresses and interplay between them is cleverly defined. Definitely a series to track and enjoy.

Was this review helpful?

What happens when you die? Is there a heaven, hell or purgatory? What is on the other side? This novel is like the escape game of the afterlife. A trilling adventure, a riddle woven into a desert scape, in geography that is like our own, but also very different. It feels like a post apocalyptic reality, inhabited by multinational family groups and their animals. It's about invention, discovery, problem solving and human relationships. Trying to fit this book into a particular genre is a challenge.

It is however the best book I have read in the last decade. I can't wait to tell everyone I know about it. An instant classic!

Was this review helpful?

The Dormilone family are hunting an object in the desert. Other families are searching for it too but only one family can win.

Wow, what an unusual and fascinating story. Amazingly written, the detail and descriptions were so well done, I was there on the sand with the family. I really enjoyed the dual timeline and the way they converged. The cast of characters were all interesting and I loved how they knit together. There’s such a huge focus on family and I really appreciated that.

I feel like the storyline just didn’t stop, it was always moving, some new problem for the family to solve. The last section of the book flew by so fast and everything happened all at once. Then suddenly it was over and I feel like I got hit by a truck. I’m having withdrawals and I want to read it again so I can travel the sands with Spider and Camel and the rest of the family. Truly an amazing read with such wonderful world building. Loved it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Century Books for the gifted eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

This was a very long story but completely immersive. Some appealing characters, a lot of tension and difficult situations which needed resolving.. I got used the the alternate time lines and found them really interesting, The only criticism I have is the very abrupt conclusion, after reading the book for a long time. it was a shock. i presume there is to be a sequel. Presumably there is to be a sequel.

Was this review helpful?

This is a book that completely caught me by surprise, I was aware that there were two stories involved here but how they connected was a complete curve ball!

One timeline is a group, or as they refer to themselves, a family who are surviving in an inhospitable desert. Each member has a different background and they have random memories from their previous life.

The second is of a young girl, fascinated by wind and sand. She lives in the US and is looked at as a bit of an oddity, her family don't understand her and her obsessions.

I really don't know how to start this review so it may be a little disjointed and most likely very vague! The two storylines don't seem to have any connectors in them, two completely different worlds and people. One is a world we would recognise, as it has a present-day "normal world" setting. The other is definitely not, think of something like Dune but with scarier creatures that emerge at night and that has a time limit to it.

The two stories are very good in their own right, and it took me a while to realise how unconnected they both are. It is not until a lot later in the book that there is that sudden OMG moment when the author literally drops the bombshell. And it was a massive one that suddenly changed the story.

Given the slower and slightly disjointed storyline at the start of the story, I found something about this that kept me reading. I have seen very different reviews of this and some feel that it does go on a bit long. Others and I am one, think it is perfect. I thought it was a way of the author making sure we really get to know the characters. I also found that it very subtly ramped up the mystery and intrigue and I didn't realise that until the bombshell moment.

This is a book that I really enjoyed, it is a mix of dystopian, fantasy, contemporary and mystery. It is from the pen of Mo Hayder who sadly passed away this year (July 2021) at the age of 59. This book is the first time I had read anything by her and I will be going through the back catalogue.

The Book of Sand is a story that I do think will divide readers, it is one that I found was really intriguing and it was the two separate timelines and the different worlds that really drew me in. The end section does change things a lot and it becomes darker and more dangerous.

I really enjoyed this and I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for something engaging, mysterious, dystopian and a little bit different.

Was this review helpful?

The Book of Sand starts as a story of two worlds - almost two different dimensions. There is the desert with shifting sands and dunes that are capable of burying whole cities; the nights are haunted by monstrous, blood-thirsty beings who are neither dead nor alive and who don't seem to have a stable physical form. In that world a group of strangers is thrown together by fate or rather by mysterious design. The group - referred to as Family - travels by day in search of Sarkpont (a holy grail that has the power to end their apocalyptic desert trek). By night they cower in their shuck which is detached and suspended in mid-air to protect them against night-time perils. Spider, possibly of French heritage but that is only implied, is the focal character. We see the Family's endeavours through his eyes.
In parallel to the desert world, there is the contemporary world of a teenage girl called McKenzie, a science geek, fascinated with sand and desert ,who one day wakes up to find a lizard in her bed. Her world, though seemingly safe and ordinary, begins to undergo a strange transformation. Others can't see what she is seeing and soon her mental health comes into question.
You know that in time the two worlds will collide or merge in some way. The story leads that way. I found McKenzie's story unremarkable at first, but soon it absorbed me and at some point took over from the fantastical world of the desert. Although you will have six hundred pages to plough through, this book is worth persevering with. Your time will be well invested.
The Book of Sand is a reflective and mesmerising tale set in a dystopian reality which tests man's resilience. It is about interdependence and commonality of purpose. It is about togetherness and the intrinsic value each of us represents. All in all, it is an exquisite and thought-provoking story. The ending will take you deep inside yourself, into your past and even your beginning.

Was this review helpful?

Brilliant book! This unique story immediately grabs you and transports you into two seemingly separate worlds, which eventually collide in a dramatic, unexpected, but also very enlightening way. The characters of the family are very well developed and likable. I had a sense of really knowing their personalities, forming favorites in Spider and Yma.

I loved that the author was so mysterious in writing this storyline where it constantly keeps you guessing, never really clearly leading you in one direction or the other until the very end. I liked how the author combines fantasy, spiritualism, time travel/reincarnation and elements of impending horror sprinkled throughout the story. What the book does well is to engage and hold you within the folds of the story from the very start, while trying to pull the pieces of the puzzle together along with the characters, with unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Despite the families dire circumstances and some shady characters, you root for the family and Camel to succeed. Essentially their objective is a race to free themselves from being trapped in a harsh world. They must find the answers to the puzzle which in turn will lead them to finding the exact place from which they can escape from. Their competitors are other families in the very same situation as themselves, struggling to survive and in a fight to be the first to escape. No one knows exactly what will happen when they find it, but they all know if fail, their lives will be taken by the monsters in the sand.

A really enjoyable, thought provoking, recommended book.

Was this review helpful?

Pure genius and a gorgeous book from the outset as the pages just welcome you in. Deserts and abandon cities what is there not to love about this creepy intrigue ?!

The story goes between between that and the seemingly ordinary life of Mackenzie who is just trying to get into a good college . The contrast of the two who will keep you questioning and putting theories forward to yourself.
There is room for a sequel as the book wants you to continue your literary journey.

You will fall in love with the characters even though some aren't all that nice , in times of hardship people pull together and you will be become one of them.

Was this review helpful?

The Book of Sand is a truly unique novel telling the stories of two parallel timelines, one of which is set against the backdrop of a seemingly endless desert, and the other in modern-day Washington. I found the characters themselves to be understandable and relatable, particularly Kenzie. They are all memorable in some way. Many of the ideas presented within the narrative are original and executed very well, making for an engrossing reading experience.

Was this review helpful?

The author of this book had various names to deal with her abundant talents: as Candy Davis she was a fine comedy actress, as Mo Hayder she wrote some of the darkest crime thrillers of the century, as Clare Dunkel she excelled at being a friend, a mother, and eventually a wife, and now as Theo Clare she leaves us with a much-needed encore. For all of the above she deserves a standing ovation. I humbly give her one.
This magnificent novel is smart and compassionate, beautifully written with characters which come alive on every page. This whole new world created by an extraordinary literary imagination is unpredictable and daring and completely compelling. The brilliant atmospheric writing is vivid, heartbreaking but subtly uplifting.
For me this was the best reading experience of a lifetime. It deserves to be a huge bestseller.

Was this review helpful?

Really enjoyed this, it’s quite a hefty book, but it needs it for the story - it’s length is appropriate because there’s a lot to this story, there’s no filler or boring bits to be found.

I read that it’s a bit like Mad Max scene wise and I completely agree with that. A group of people put together with a limited time to escape, and obviously some baddies around to make it a bit more of a challenge.

It’s a really excellent read, one I was completely hooked on, and the ending really didn’t disappoint. I honestly cannot wait for the next book!!!

My thanks to Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review

Was this review helpful?

A journey, into the not so unknown. Lives that have crossed paths on many different plains. Family bonds that bind.

The cirque, an unforgiving desolate land. Cities of the Earth, unexplainably 'close' to each other. The past and present a blur. Lives crossed, memories continued.

The time between the 'grey' precious.

A tale on so many different levels, entwined beautifully. The cast of characters differ on so many levels, yet come together as a single family unit.

The quest, to find a somewhat very well hidden item, to carry finish their journey.

This reminds me of a very compacted take on one of my all time favourite series. The Dark Tower saga by Stephen King.

Does the quest ever end, or do we just return to the beginning and start with a clean slate?

Status: Completed

Rating: 4.7/5.0

Was this review helpful?

I waited a while before reviewing The Book of Sand as I wanted to absorb it. Then I found myself missing Spider, one of the main characters. This is a very immersive story with great family dynamics at its heart. The Dormilones family are not related but thrown together in a disparate group and have to compete, sometimes to the death, with other ‘families’ to find the Sarkpoint. They inhabit the desert living in an abandoned tower in a shuck and all they can see for miles around are abandoned cities engulfed by sand.There are monsters to avoid and environmental dangers too. Meanwhile in a parallel universe, we follow the story of Mckenzie, a 17 year old student who is obsessed by weather patterns and the desert. The ending was a bit abrupt but promises more to come. I can’t wait. Thanks to NetGalley And Penguin Random House for the ARC.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advanced reader copy.

I love fantasy books because there are no rules and they can take you anywhere. The trick for the author is to make the incredible credible. This author does an admirable job of that in this well-written clever book.

It's whacky, The characters are whacky. You're fed the backgrounds of the characters a bit at a time. There are two threads that merge nicely. I quickly embraced the strangeness and got more and more hooked as the story progressed.

Five stars, well deserved. Now, where is her back catalogue?

Since posting this review I have discovered that the author, Mo Hayder, died earlier this year. A sad loss. My condolences to her family.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: