Reviewed by Marcus Hammond

A large mountain called the Citadel rises into the atmosphere and casts its shadow over the city of Ruin, Turkey. Within the mountain an ancient order of monks, known as the Sanctus, live to protect a fundamental secret of their religious order: the Sacrament. Only a chosen few within the monastic order are allowed to know the identity of the Sacrament.

As one of the chosen few, the Sacrament is revealed to Samuel who instantly rejects his religious education and rebels against the religious sect he has dedicated his adult life too. After being sentenced to death for his reaction to the Sacrament, Samuel escapes the Citadel through a small prison window high up on the mountain’s sheer face. As he climbs up the steep mountainside Samuel sets into motion a renewal of a violent religious war. From the top of the mountain, Samuel jumps to his doom, landing within the Ruin city jurisdiction to provide clues for his long estranged sister, Liv, about the terrible secret hidden within the mountain.

As Liv begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her brother’s suicide and the Sanctus monks, the leaders within the mountain become aware of the relationship between Samuel, Liv, and an ancient prophecy that foretells the revelation of the Sacrament to the world. In response they begin to hunt Liv down in order to silence her and stop her from fulfilling her role in their ancient war. Liv, however, finds help and protection from the descendants of a group who have been sworn to reveal the Sacrament to the world. The explosive consequences of the battle between the two ancient religious groups provide a pretty far-fetched, yet entertaining, and imaginative opening book to a trilogy.

Sanctus consists of short chapters (about three to five pages) that switch between the perspectives of the protagonists and antagonists throughout the story. This style creates a plot that moves at an intense pace that helps distract the reader from Simon Toyne’s re-envisioning of an unnamed, yet widely popular religious belief structure, that will probably be read (and rightfully so) as a reference to the Vatican.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Dan Brown style plots and James Patterson style organization, this thriller should entertain you enough to place the subsequent sequels on your library waiting list.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

After obtaining a Masters in Liberal Arts and Literature Marcus has dedicated most of his time to teaching English Composition for a community college in the Midwest. In his down time, he spends time avidly reading an eclectic selection of books and doing freelance writing whenever he gets the chance. He lives in Kansas with his wife.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.