Blury, black and white photo of a woman in some kind of an office

About the Book

Title: Sanctum (Asylum #2)
Published: 2014
Series: Asylum

Cover Story: Where the Hell is My Checkbook?
Drinking Buddy: You’ve Changed, Dude
Testosterone Level: Nope
Talky Talk: Disappointing
Bonu Factors: Creepy Conspiracy
Bromance Status: I Don’t Forgive You

Cover Story: Where the Hell is My Checkbook?

Oooo….I know it’s around here somewheeeeeeere….oooo

Like the original book, Sanctum, is interspersed with creepy Victorian photos of the various clues and locations in this story. If these were specifically designed for the novel, that would be kind of cool. The photo credits, however, indicate that they are all Shutterstock or the like. And they don’t really add much to the story. Photos of the circus knife thrower, the bearded lady, and the elephants are kind of cool, but literally have nothing to do with the plot. And great lines like ‘the building looked like a gingerbread house that had been left out in the rain’ don’t need an accompanying stock photo. Let the words do the talking.

The Deal:

In the first novel we meet Dan, a teenager who’s recently been adopted out of foster care. He spends a summer at a scholars’ camp, where he meets Abby, his first romance, and Jordan, his new gay bestie. Oh, and their dorm used to be a mental hospital where the warden performed hellish experiments on the inmates. Funny thing, the warden might have been Dan’s biological uncle. Soon, everything goes to hell, with the warden possessing Dan and the ghost of his serial killer victim possessing his roommate, Felix.

Months later, Dan is still trying to pick up the pieces and sleep at night again. But Felix contacts him from his (non haunted) mental facility, begging Dan to look up some coordinates. There’s something there Dan needs to see.

Dan rounds up the old team, and under the guise of researching colleges, they revisit the campus.

Yep, still haunted. Oh, and there’s a creepy circus in town. With scary clowns.

Drinking Buddy: You’ve Changed, Dude

Two pints of beer cheersing with a "Denied" stamp over them

In the first book, the trio had a neat Scooby Doo vibe going on. In this one, they’re devoid of personality (which is strange, as they were some of the few characters who didn’t wind up lobotomized). When classmates try to befriend Dan, he avoids them, as he already has two friends. Jordan, who we know went to the academy to avoid ‘pray away the gay’ camp, has turned into a stereotype. Hunted in a corn maze by deranged cultists and Holy shit, did you see the shoes that guy was wearing?

What I truly disliked was the heroes’ complete disregard they had for other characters. When they’re trapped in an abandoned building by the same cultists, a guy named Micah runs off in a diversionary tactic, drawing the mob after him. In gratitude, Dan, Jordan and Abby go and get help…no, wait. They go to the computer lab to do more research. Later, they wonder what ever happened to Micah, but assume he got away (spoiler alert: no, he didn’t).

This isn’t the only time Dan and company lead a friend to their doom. It’s like seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione watching Death Eaters haul off Neville and Luna with a shrug. Hey, they’re only secondary characters, after all.

Testosterone Level: Nope

The action scenes were okay, but lacked the oomph of the original. As for the romance…

In the first book, it was cute watching Dan stumble his way through his first hookup with Abby while avoiding undead horrors. In the sequel, distance and time have cooled things down between them. They don’t even kiss.

Talky Talk: Disappointing

I was initially excited to get back to this series, but it rapidly fell flat. Repetitive dialogue, a lack of chemistry, and an uninspiring evil left me feeling disappointed. There were many interesting things that could have been explored: Abby’s lobotomized aunt who lives in town, Jordan’s sexuality, Dan’s relationship with his adoptive family, but it all falls by the wayside. The illustrations were more distracting than anything, and to tell you the truth, I’m not anxious to pick up part three.

Bonus Factor: Creepy Conspiracy

The creepy, glowy eyed children from the original Village of the Damned

So Dan and friends are immediately hounded by a masked group called ‘The Scarlets.’ Everyone is involved! The college, the local government, law enforcement, the mailman… Hmm. Maybe it’s not a conspiracy. Maybe nobody likes you.

Bromance Status: I Don’t Forgive You

It’s sad when a book is disappointing. But the sequel to an excellent first novel? That just hurts, man.

Full disclosure: I received neither money or stock photos for writing this review.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.