Wednesday 24 January 2018

Clare Reviews: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

The Sacrifice BoxTitle: The Sacrifice Box
Author: Martin Stewart
Format: ARC
Source: Received at YALC from Publisher
Pages: 387
Rating: 4.5/5
Blurb: Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they'll never visit it alone; and they'll never take back their offerings.
Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact.
As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town's history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all: one of them.

This was so, so intense. There were moments of humour and lightness but there were also moments that made me tense up - and some that were outright scary. This has been compared to Stranger Things and Stephen King - which is a big comparison. I haven't seen Stranger Things and I've read nothing by King, but I get why the comparison was made. There's a sort of quirky horror in this book that feels utterly unique and hugely memorable.

The pop culture references made me so happy - it's set in the 80s and the nostalgia kick for anyone who was a teen then is going to be huge. For me it was just before I was born (I missed out on a lot apparently) but references to Zelda and Hall & Oates still excited me! Each character was very realistic and relatable in various ways. I think my favourite would have to be Arkle but I did love all of them. Even if it took me a little longer to warm up to Mack. Sep is the protagonist and is a great one, he is intelligent and loyal and so seeing the story through his eyes added a lot of emotional kick.

I wouldn't expect teddy bears or dolls to be as outright terrifying as they are in this book. And I'll admit when "Barnaby" first appeared I laughed. The idea of an animated toy feels way too Toy Story for me. But after he has gone on a violent rampage he becomes considerably less cute and funny and just a little bit more scary. There's one scene towards the end that has made me very wary of my childhood toys. 

The one thing I didn't love was the ending. For a book that so perfectly ratcheted up the tension and the action all the way through, the ending felt... anti-climactic. I just wish there had been more there, or maybe I just wanted more character deaths (am I a bad person??). Other than that though, this book was hugely satisfying and exciting. I would love to see it as a movie and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Stewart writes next!!


  1. I think I need this! Great review!

  2. No wonder it is compared to Stranger Things with the 80s references. I'm wary myself of the toys/dolls part. I don't know if I'm up for that but it sounds like a scary good book otherwise.

    1. It was a really good creepy read! I've never been creeped out by toys or dolls though.

  3. The Sacrifice Box isn't a book I would automatically pick up. However, it sounds like an interesting story. Great review!