The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Unfortunately, Mixed Feelings for This


The Retreat is my second book by Sarah Pearse.  I read The Sanatorium and it did give me certain issues.  However, it was an entertaining read and I certainly didn’t struggle to complete it – just more that I was left feeling slightly dissatisfied and to be honest I had the same feeling at the conclusion of the Retreat.

The Retreat follows a very similar style to The Sanatorium.  Here we have a rather exclusive retreat set on a small island (with something of a back history).  We once again follow Detective Elin Warner who is once again beset with personal issues as well as still struggling with a former incident at work.  Elin is called to the island to investigate the death of a guest at the retreat.  It appears to be a fairly clear cut case of accidental death except there are little irritating issues and these are compounded when a second death occurs.

I’m not going to overly elaborate on the plot but instead give a recap of my various feelings throughout the read.

I think one of my earliest, and clearest feelings was that at the start of the read quite a number of characters are introduced and personally I didn’t feel like they stood out well, for me they were a little confusingly similar.  To sum up there are three sisters and their spouses (although one of the sisters was prevented from attending due to work and also a cousin.  It soon becomes evident that there’s a lot of history and bad feeling between the group and this certainly helps to paint them all in the role of suspect at certain points.  It did beg the question for me though as to why all these adults would think it would be a good idea to spend time together like this when all they seem to do is backstab and bicker.

The Island itself also has a disturbing history.  Violent murders were committed on the island a number of years ago, the murderer now behind bars.  There was also an old boy’s school on the island which seems to have been the setting for some rather dark occurences and to top it all off there is a famous rock on the island that actually resembles the Grim Reaper.  No wonder people harbour fear and suspicion about the place.  Which does puzzle me as to why this particular setting would be chosen for a luxury retreat – for me that was one of those little brain worms that just wouldn’t let go. Why would you do it?

I do enjoy the writing and think Pearse sets the scene well.  The island was easy to imagine and the author ramps up the creep factor on a number of occasions and towards the end the pressure is really on and I confess that my heart was in my throat at certain points.  But, in spite of that I felt that there was just too much going on in this plot.  It just felt a bit muddy and complicated and it feels similar to how I felt reading the Sanatorium – which does make me think this is perhaps a case of ‘it’s me, not you’.

Overall, this was easy to read, it did hold my attention and I was very curious about what was going on, but, It had a slow start, a lot of characters and a complicated plot that is perhaps just not my style.  I wouldn’t discourage others from picking this up I just don’t think it was my cup of tea particularly.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3 of 5 stars


Friday Face Off : Off the TBR : The Retreat by Sarah Pearse (Detective Elin Warner #)


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

Off the TBR

You may have noticed my blog has been unusually quiet.  At the moment i’m having a fortnight break with family which is the reason for this abrupt disappearance.  I’ve not given up blogging, just having a holiday and normal service will soon be resumed. I haven’t been reading lots either, because lots of socialising has been involved.  But,  we’ve all had a good time and hopefully i’ll be back on track soon.

This week is a book with different covers off the TBR. I feel like nobody I know will struggle with this week’s theme 😀  I’ve chosen a review book, The Retreat by Sarah Pearse (Detective Elin Warner #).  I wasn’t totally in love with the first in series (The Sanatorium) but it ended on a puzzling note and so want to give the second in series a shot.


29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie

Wondrous Words and Can’t Wait Wednesday : Mastermind: A Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood Thriller

Every Wednesday I take part in Can’t Wait Wednesday, I’m also hoping to take part in a new meme being hosted by Elza Reads called Wondrous Words Wednesday.  I’ll be combining these into the same posts as they’re both short and sweet.

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : A Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood Thriller

MastermindA mysterious electrical storm plunges Manhattan into darkness. As a strange, smothering fog rolls in, all communication crashes. In the blink of an eye, the island seems to vanish into a void.

FBI special agent Jessica Blackwood and brilliant scientist Dr. Theo Cray know this isn’t a freak accident. It’s a sinister sleight of hand. Their greatest adversary, a serial killer and cultist known as the Warlock, has escaped during a prison transfer in New York. A depraved master of manipulation, he promised the end of days. He’s making good on it.

One by one, cities across the globe are erupting in chaos as they disappear into the same black holes. Even for two ingenious trackers like Jessica and Theo, there’s still so much to learn about the pattern to the Warlock’s madness. The voids are just a warm-up for something bigger. To discover it—to stop it—Jessica and Theo must descend into the darkest of shadows—and minds.

Expected Publication September 2021


This meme was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion Blog and has now been adopted by Elza Reads.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.

No rules just enjoy and for further info check out Elza Reads.

My word this week is :


My word this week is literally the title of my most recent read which is a thriller with a horror vibe that takes place during a terrible storm high on the mountains in a luxury hotel, that used to be a sanatorium.

A sanatorium (also spelled sanitarium or sanitorium) is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century before the discovery of antibiotics.

To be honest, the word ‘sanatorium’ has always given me an ominous vibe and in my brain I always connected the word with early asylums (which were very unpleasant places by all accounts).  I did a little reading about this and it does appear that some sanitorium were converted to asylums following the introduction of antibiotics for TB – prior to that, it was believed that clean air and a good diet were the best treatment – hence sanatoriums were usually set in remote places where the air was less likely to be polluted.

This got me to thinking about another word:


Now, to me- bedlam is a word that means absolute chaos but in fact it is actually a word that comes from the name of a notorious asylum in London. Definition:

an asylum for the mentally ill
1 : a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion There was bedlam in the streets after the verdict was announced. 2 or Bedlam : an asylum for the mentally ill. 3 obsolete : madman, lunatic.

If you want to know more check out this history site :

Anyway, this is the book that inspired the thought process:


The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Posted On 22 February 2021

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 25 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : My expectations were too high

TheSanatoriumThe Sanatorium was certainly not a bad story and in fact has some really great moments but at the same time I didn’t love this quite as much as I expected and I wonder if perhaps my expectations were ridiculously escalated for which I can only blame myself.  Still enjoyable though.

So, the premise for this one is really good. We have an excellent setting.  High on the mountains, bad weather looming, a former sanatorium converted into a 5* hotel and a meeting up of family and friends for a special occasion.  The hotel is only just opening and the pressure is intense.  A lot is at stake here and so when one of the party goes missing tensions run riot.  On top of the history with the place and the spooky feel there’s a good deal of history between some of the characters.

As the book starts there’s a great opening chapter which really sets the pulse racing.  We then jump forward a few months.  Elin is travelling to the hotel with her partner Will, they’re due to meet Elin’s brother Issac and his partner Laure to celebrate their recent engagement.  Unfortunately, Laure goes missing and this seems to be the catalyst for events.

Now the thing with this story is there’s a lot of history.  Both with the place and between the characters.  Elin and Issac’s young brother drowned in a tragic accident and his loss pushed the family apart.  Elin and Issac in particular have many issues unspoken between them and this has led to a build up in resentment.  Things fair little better between certain employees at the hotel and secrets are going to eventually spill forth. On top of that Elin and Will are struggling a little, Will is looking for commitment and Ellin is keeping him at arm’s length.and alongside Will exerting pressure on her Elin is also facing pressure from work.  She’s on an extended absence of leave following an incident and they’re keen for her to make a decision.  Elin is a detective who suffered a scary experience that has left her questioning her own judgement.

Then the story escalates, everyone needs to leave but a few remaining guests and staff are forced to remain behind when the road is blocked. Further avalanches threaten, and a dead body is discovered. The Swiss police can’t get to the hotel and Elin reluctantly steps in, without any real jurisdiction, to at least try to gain and preserve some semblance of order and the few snippets of evidence that can be found.

Okay, I didn’t dislike this.  It was an easy read and well written but I did have some issues.

After a rather quick start things do slow down considerably.  There are lots of different elements to discover about the characters and to some extent this slows things down a good deal in the first half while we take everything on board.  I didn’t really mind this build up in a lot of respects because it helps us get to know the characters a bit better and it would be difficult to care about all the outcomes without any sort of a connection.  However, in some respects I still found it difficult to connect, particularly with Elin and there’s an element of things constantly being ‘unspoken’ which I do find a little frustrating.

I did think that there was a good horror vibe going on and the former Sanatorium come hotel with it’s creepy backstory were interesting to read about.  Plus some of the scenes where the ‘baddie’ appears were definitely scary.  However, some of the tension was diluted somewhat by Elin acting like a headless chicken. Okay, that’s probably a little harsh.  She was trying her best at the same time as dealing with personal issues, but I felt that she walked heedlessly into situations that made me think she was auditioning for a short role in a horror movie.

My main criticism however has to be the eventual reveal which just didn’t sit right for me.  I don’t know why but I just didn’t buy it plus, there’s this slightly crazy ending that I didn’t really understand and had to go back and reread it – and I still don’t know what it signifies.  Now I realise that I’m probably being a little dense there so I hold my hands up.

Overall, this seriously wasn’t a bad read at all. In fact it was remarkably easy.  I just think I was expecting something slightly different.  I’m all for character depth but I think this one maybe needed less of the personal family drama going on at the same time as everything else, it felt like a lot to unload.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 3.5 of 5 stars.

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is :  The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.  The idea of a sanatorium, in fact, excuse me, an abandoned sanatorium, being turned into a hotel – chills much? Here’s the description:

TheSanatorium‘At first glance they’re magnificent, yet the more she looks, the more she realizes how sinister the mountains appear: raw, jagged spikes. It’s not hard to imagine, she thinks, looking out; this place somehow consuming someone, swallowing them whole.’

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

Expected Publication : February 2021