Sarah Pearse masters a creeping sense of dread right from the get-go and maintains it beautifully throughout the novel”

Our seasonal recommendation for February is The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse. Set in a chilling, claustrophobic and isolated hotel in the Swiss Alps (during a Blizzard, we might add), this thrilling, gripping and atmospheric novel is Sarah Pearse’s debut. We were delighted to speak to Natasha Barsby (the editor of The Sanatorium) about what drew her to this incredible novel.

Natasha Barsby, Editor of The Sanatorium

There’s a sort of panicked feeling you get as an editor when you know you’re reading something special: a real rush of excitement swiftly followed by nerves that, after an explosive start, the twists will be too easy to guess or that you’ll start to tire of the main character. When you get to the end of the book and none of that has happened, you know you really do have something brilliant in your hands.

In The Sanatorium, Sarah Pearse masters a creeping sense of dread right from the get-go and maintains it beautifully throughout the novel. Her sense of plotting and the timing of her reveals is superb, and she describes the setting so vividly – the snow crunching underfoot, and that cosy but deadly sense of quiet that pervades the air . . . Even after reading this book as many times as I now have (a lot!), I remain in awe of her ability to transport her reader to that beautiful, imposing, terrifying hotel. As the strapline on the cover says, you really won’t want to leave – until you can’t . . .

But it wasn’t just the setting that drew me in – Sarah has also given us a complex cast of rounded characters, and a flawed but relatable heroine in Elin. Elin’s personal mission of finally learning the truth of what happened to her brother provides an emotional balance to the central murder mystery, and it is the interplay of these two strands, set against such a menacing backdrop, that gives The Sanatorium its rich and layered narrative.

Bantam Press (18 Feb. 2021)
ISBN-13 : 978-1787633315