Friday, November 2

The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker

Love is a theme regularly tackled by Ted Dekker in his many novels. As I read more and more novels, the exploration of the theme began to seem more and more similar. Then Dekker wrote The Sanctuary, a follow up to his novel The Priest's Graveyard. Once again the theme of love comes up, but Dekker approaches it in a way that feels fresh.

Like The Priest's Graveyard, Dekker switches back and forth between Renee's point of view (1st person) and Danny's points of view (3rd person). Danny is imprisoned, doing time for a crime he didn't commit to help save the woman he loves. But prison isn't easy, especially for Danny who has given up his violent past and made a vow of non-violence. Through Danny, Dekker begins to explore the issue of whether America's system of treating prisoners is working, a system bent on punishment and not rehabilitation.

Driving the book forward is a well-paced story. Renee comes to believe that Danny's life is in danger, even as he is transferred to a new prison who's warden who has a unique view on how prisons should operate. Can Renee save Danny in time, or will Danny's vow of non-violence lead to his death?

I enjoyed The Priest's Graveyard and looked forward to reading the sequel. This story is fast paced and constantly driving forward, unfortunately it doesn't live up to its predecessor.

One of the problems I had was with the inconsistency of the theme. While I was pleased to see Dekker work with something different, the use of the theme seemed to sputter throughout the novel and seemed completely ignored at the end.

I also found the move Renee's to Danny's POV to be much more jarring in this book as well. Chapters didn't seem to transition as well, though I do admit that the changes in POV makes it easy to tell when we switch characters. Further, neither storyline kept me as interested as in Graveyard. At first I enjoyed the Warden's character, but he quickly grew repetitive, and he felt one dimensional for most of the story, which was disappointing for such a large character in the story.

If you enjoyed The Priest's Graveyard, you might well enjoy this one and if you haven't read Graveyard, you could probably follow this one OK, but there may be a few areas of confusion. Though this wasn't Dekker's strongest novel, it certainly wasn't his worth. If you want to see him work with a different theme, this one might just interest you.

3/5 stars

I received this book free from Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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