Review : Sanctuary Bay, Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

Once in a while, you read a book that just does it, for you. It fits. It’s the right amount of scary, of romance, of mystery, it’s just everything you’ve been looking for in some time, right now. I’m thrilled to say that Sanctuary Bay is one of those books, for me, and here’s why I think you all should give it a try.


“After both her parents’ murder, Sarah Merson was dragged to one foster family to another, her whole life. But one day, she receives a letter. Telling her that she’s been accepted to the most prestigious prep-school in the country, Sanctuary Bay. A school on a remoted island, where students and teachers are living during three years, with no chance of going out. It’s for educational purpose, to make sure that everyone focuses on school work. To have the best students out there, after. Suddenly, Sarah finds herself in a whole other world : privileged students, new roomates and friends, boys…But when her roomate goes missing, and no one seems to even notice it, Sarah starts asking questions. What is really happening here? With unexpected allies, she needs to find out the truth behind Sanctuary Bay…before it’s too late.” 

I had absolutely NO idea what to expect when I started reading Sanctuary Bay. And I think this is the way you should start reading it, too. Right from the start, you get dragged into an horrific scene from Sarah’s childhood, and it already gives you chills. From that, it just keeps on going on, and on, and on. The chills, I mean, and the mystery. The setting was wonderful, and exactly the kind of setting I would have loved to write about. A strange school, aside from the rest of the world. It’s compelling, and kind of bizarre, don’t you think? Right from the start, I was taken into a mysterious place, with new faces, a whole new world. And, besides the crazy chills I already mentionned, well, it was thrilling, every step of the way.


I guess what made it thrilling, really is the main character, Sarah. I started to get to know her in the first pages, and despite some of her annoying habits, her lack of confidence and her whole, well, teenager issues, if I can say, she felt REAL. I don’t think I’ve ever read, in a long time, about a character that felt so real, to me. Her little habits, her way of connecting with people for the first time…it’s those little things that makes us grow attached to a character, and identify ourselves with them. With Sarah, this perfectly worked. And, did I mention that Sarah is a person of color? I loved that aspect about her, not only because diversity in books is always needed and refreshing, but because she felt even more real this way. Real, different, and way ahead of those characters tropes you always seem to find in books. She has her personality, and she stands up for it, and I loved her for that. Moreover, she has quite a particularity, which I will not develop here because I don’t want to spoil you, but it made her even more interesting to me. All throrough the story, she grows and finds herself becoming stronger. She’s a changed girl from the start to the end of the story.

A great main character, but the secondary characters aren’t left out in this, at all. I loved the fact that we got to know, slowly, all of the other characters. They weren’t one-dimensional, they weren’t limited to some qualities and some appearances during the story, revolving around Sarah’s life and world. I felt like they were completely included, and all of them had more to their story that we know. We had to peel of the layers. I had to see, page by page, who was really inside Karina, Ethan, Nate, and all of the other characters. And, did I mention that this is a school ? There’s no school without professors. Some of them – one particularily – played a role in the story, and I loved that adult figure in between all the teenagers’ ones. Once again, we got a three dimensional teacher, too. No one is limited to one thing, in this story, and that’s what I loved so much about it

OBVIOUSLY, there’s a boy in the story, and I just loved him. He wasn’t too sweet, he was kind of annoying at times, he wasn’t a bad boy, but he’s not the kind you fall in love instantly while reading the story. It’s just perfectly balanced.


Sanctuary Bay isn’t the kind of book you should read if you’re looking to relax and just, NOT think. Because this story will make your mind churning like crazy, and your brain getting a little lost along the way, too. It’s no pic-nic. Dramatic moments are balanced with some softer times, but there’s always this feeling, in your gut, that you’re standing right on the edge of the cliff, ready to fall. I was always wondering what was happening, gripping the pages in anticipation for what’s coming next. The writing does a lot for this, too. There are two authors, and they fit perfectly together to make one unique voice, gripping and addicting. They both managed to create an unique setting and an ambiance that makes you a little creeped out, a LOT confused and intrigued. Everything is very vivid. As I read, I felt like seeing the scenes unfold before my eyes, and felt my heart getting caught in my throat. And, after closing the book, there are many questions answered, and many questions left, too. If there’s a sequel, I need to read it NOW.


A chilling setting, for an unexpected story : if you’re into the mystery, thriller type of read, then don’t miss out on Sanctuary Bay. Everything about it just feels so real. From the characters, their feelings, their diversity, their relationships ; to the story, written in a gripping prose that will have you reach for your teddy bear at night – and in the daylight, too.

Final rating:  4 Drops

A BILLION thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for sending me a free digital copy of this book via NetGalley. This didn’t in any case influenced my opinion on this work. 

Would you like to read Sanctuary Bay? Why, or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments! 💬

Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz, Sanctuary Bay,  Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, January 19th 2016.


In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah’s new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this “school” is something much more sinister.

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17 thoughts on “Review : Sanctuary Bay, Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz

    1. I understand, and I have to admit, after reading the first few pages, I was like “what am I getting into….”. But I’m so, so glad I carried on, it’s such an interesting story, very different and action-paced. I didn’t get bored once! 🙂 I hope you’ll add it to your TBR 😀
      Thank you so, so much!! ❤


  1. My blog tour stop is set for the end of the month and I am so read to read this one (I’m going to pick it up once i finish Bookishly Every After, hopefully today)! Especially now that I know it lives up to expectations. I’m really happy you loved this, Marie! I remember requesting this when I saw it on your Waiting on Wednesday post (or I think it was a WoW post?). It sort of reminds me of the Private series. I read some of the books from that one as a preteen and thought that was meh, but this one already sounds so much better with 3D, flawed but real characters. And, as always, nice review, Marie!

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