MY THOUGHTS: Don't read this book if you want to go on believing that justice always prevails. Don't read this book if you prefer your heroes perfect and sinless. Don't read this book if you want to guess the ending before you are halfway through. But if you are looking for suspense, thrills, and a story that draws you so far in that you're afraid to even jaywalk, this won't disappoint.
I did not read The Priest's Graveyard, the story of a vigilante priest who exacts justice on criminals who've slipped through the system, but I didn't have any trouble picking where this second book begins. As Danny does his time in an experimental prison with a new set of rules, he finds himself in the middle of a game of vengeance, power, and insanity. Renee is pulled in, and with the help of a former cop, must find a way to determine who the mastermind is behind the twisted game they are forced to play. All the while, Danny is struggling with his vow of non-violence, unsure of how he'll keep his promise when he is surrounded by threats, torture, and now the involvement of the woman he lives for.
The reality of life in prison is fascinating, albeit difficult to think about. Dekker paints an all-too-real picture of the culture that exists within the walls of this alternative society, drawing us into a world where normal rules don't apply, where only the strong survive, where prisoners enter as men and leave as monsters. And where sometimes, innocent people can't escape from the living hell they've been thrown into.
Although I prefer Dekker's fantasy novels, I can't deny that I was unable to put this book down, except for those times when I was very disturbed and needed to step away from the pages. It was that real. And it has renewed my zeal to pray for those in the criminal justice system, whether guilty or innocent of the crimes they are being punished for.
PARENTAL RATING: This one earns an R in our house, due to the realistic depiction of violence. Considering the style and setting of this story, it was totally appropriate. However, my girls are a bit too sensitive for this level of gruesome, and, to be honest, I had to skim through some parts myself, to be sure I could sleep at night.
**I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.
The Sanctuary is the second book in a series by Ted Dekker and continues with the characters of Danny Hansen and Renee Gilmore who were also the central characters for The Priest's Graveyard. I don't know if I could have gotten more out of this book if I had read the previous one, but The Sanctuary never did fully engage my attention. It may have been the horrific action that took place that caused me to put an emotional wall up, but Mr. Dekker is very descriptive. It made it easy to visualize some of the actions taking place, and much of it was unpleasant. To be fair, though, a prison is not a happy place. I also guessed the antagonist's identity very early in the story, so there weren't really any surprises. However, I have read other of Dekker's books that held my attention, and I have no doubt that many of his fans will enjoy reading this one also.
I received an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of this book from the publishers through Net Gallery. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.