A priest, less and yet far more than he appears, is an astonished witness to what he believes is a miracle when his church and village are ransacked. Who is the mystery man who brought the raiders to heel and destroyed the darkest among them? Is his appearance a sign from God, and what journey does his presence portend for the young priest?
Kris Kramer’s Sanctuary follows Daniel, a young priest with a secret who has taken up residence in the village of Rogwallow, Wessex. When a man who calls himself only Arkael appears from nowhere to defend the church – a sanctuary, or holy place – from vicious raiders, Daniel follows him in an attempt to learn the truth about his quest. What lies in store for Daniel, however, is a journey of self-discovery; his travels take him not only across the kingdoms of 9th century Britain, but also between the forces of good and evil, and help him discover the power that lies within him.
Kramer’s prose is simple and elegant, capturing the reader even as he weaves a dark story of war and magic. Daniel is a character of many conflicting thoughts and dynamic weaknesses, an archetype that will resonate with many readers beyond the specifics of the plot; his perceived failures and shortcomings awaken the same feelings in readers as they move from chapter to chapter in search of his redemption.
It is Daniel’s moments of weakness that most frustrated me while reading Sanctuary: the story is compelling and moves quickly, but for quite a few chapters I felt as if I was chasing Daniel through his memories with every turn of the page, each time hoping that this was the moment that he would find his purpose…and his resolve. Rather than a weakness in the story itself, however, the suspense of that central question is a brilliant tether to keep a reader hooked and ready to find out how the story ends.
Ninth-century Britain is not a very likely setting, even for historical fiction, but the uncertainty of the time and place lend themselves well to this fantasy work. Lovers of magic and difficult philosophical questions should line up with the historical fiction fans to enjoy Sanctuary and to eagerly await the next book in this planned trilogy.
Shannon lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, son, and two cats. When she isn’t reading, getting paid to play on social media, or running her own business she enjoys playing with her baby and cooking.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Kris Kramer. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.