ARC Review: The Sacrifice Box

The Sacrifice Box

Title: The Sacrifice Box

Author: Martin Stewart

Series: N/A

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Release Date: January 11th 2018


Three Stars

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.

– Blurb courtesy of

I received an ARC of this book free from Penguin Platform. It in no way affects my views on The Sacrifice Box.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

They spoke the words—the rules of the sacrifice.
“Never come to the box alone,” they said, hands unmoving.
“Never open it after dark,” they said, fingers joined together.
“Never take back your sacrifice,” they finished—then let go.

For one summer Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley were the very best of friends, and so together they made a pact. Each of the would give something to the sacrifice box, something important to them, that they would never take back and they would stay friends forever. But after that summer ended the five drifted apart, going back to their normal friends or in Sep’s case back to studying. Now Sep is trying to complete his application for a prestigious school, trying in vain to fill out the one question about his relationships outside of school that stumps him.

There was a lot happening in this one book, and there were so many characters connected to Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley’s story that it was hard to keep track of them all. The sacrifice box has touched so many lives and all of them are being threatened when someone breaks the rules that it made it very hard to care about the story when I wasn’t given enough information to really care about the characters.

“I’m sure you think weird things have been happened, and maybe they have—I’m just saying they can’t be because of the sacrifice box.”
“Why not?”
“Because it can’t be. It’s not logical. Things can’t happen for no reason.”

When Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley approach Sep and talk about how the sacrifice box is haunting them Sep is keen to disregard their concerns, until the box comes for him too. Someone has broken the rules and taken back their sacrifice, and now the box is coming for them all, but not just Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley. It’s coming for everyone who ever left a sacrifice behind, and it puts everyone on their small island in danger.

The Sacrifice Box was a very dark book, and not one I would say is for the light hearted. There were some gruesome deaths and some very gruesome animal death and mutilation scenes, so if either of those are things you are uncomfortable reading I would not advice picking up this book. I did think The Sacrifice Box was a good story, it was fast paced and there was plenty at stake for the five friends, it was just the characters where this story fell down a little bit for me.

…The Characters

“Sep hated it when she called him brave. He wasn’t; he just endured it—brave as a rock stuck in the tide. But, more than that, he didn’t want to have to be brave—he wanted to live his life with effortless joy. Like everyone else.”

Sep has put to the back of his mind that summer four years ago when he had friends. Now all he wants is to escape the small island where he’s grown up and go to the city where he has a chance to make friends for who he actually is, have peers who don’t tease and despise him like the kids at his current school do. He refuses to believe them at first, when Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley tell him someone has broken the rules Sep seems determined to find some kind of logical explanation.

Four years ago when Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley were all best friends Sep’s mother was ill, and now it seems like that illness has come back again. Sep’s mum seems to believe it isn’t the same thing but Sep is worried all the same and he starts to wonder how much of what is going on in their lives is reality, and how much is the sacrifice box taking its revenge.

“Do you know what you’re going to sacrifice?” asked Hadley.
“Yeah,” said Sep. “Definitely.”
He cycled up the hill towards his house, quickly so they wouldn’t see the happy tears in his eyes—turning his good ear so their voices stayed with him for as long as possible.

Asides from Sep I don’t feel like any of the other characters were given the development they needed to feel more like background characters. Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley were all Sep’s best friends that one summer, and they all have their own stories. Each of them put something in the sacrifice box, something they wanted to forget or something they wanted to lose, and now that thing has come back to haunt them forcing them to face their past.

However it was only Sep’s sacrifice, Sep’s past that was given the development it needed. We got a small glimpse of the fears that shaped Arkle, Lamb and Hadley, fears which are now coming back to haunt them, but they didn’t have the same emotion behind them that seeing Sep’s fears brought to the story because they didn’t get that same development.

“You think you were the first ones to find it? Never come to the box alone. Never open it after dark. Never take back your sacrifice.”
“They’re the same as ours,” said Lamb. “They’re the same rules we made.”
“Of course they are,” said Roxburgh slowly.

There were also plenty of secondary characters who all had their own role to play in this story, and in the case of The Sacrifice Box it felt like too many stories in too little time. There were so many lives affected by the sacrifice box and it wasn’t just the people from the past who’d put a sacrifice in like Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley had, but everyone else on the island whose lives were put in danger by the groups actions.

The Sacrifice Box was a book that had a lot of potential and a great story, its only downfall was the fact that it tried to cram too many stories into one book. There were too many characters playing their parts in this book but not enough space to develop them all which in my opinion meant that every character but Sep was weakly developed.

What did you think of The Sacrifice Box? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.


26 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Sacrifice Box

  1. Thanks for this review. I have this book from NetGalley but haven’t got around to reading it yet, so it’s nice to have a better idea what I’ll be going into when I do. I did start the first chapter but couldn’t get into it at the time (but I was travelling, so wasn’t in the best position for keeping track of lots of characters).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In that case I do hope you enjoy this book. I may be in the minority but I guess in the end this wasn’t the book for me. Ha, I think this is definitely a book you need to be in the mood for. It’s hard enough to keep up with the characters when I was into the story, let alone if I wasn’t in the mood you know? 😀


  2. Ah shame about this. I’ve heard from a few places that this was disappointing- and now I’ve read your review I kinda get why. It’s a shame there’s so much going on and the characters aren’t developed enough. It’s a pity it didn’t live upto its potential. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah there are more negative reviews for this book than positive ones, and it’s a shame because the potential was there for a great story there was just too much crammed into one book. The characters and the plot didn’t really have the room to grow to their potential.
      Thanks! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh boy, it does sound like it was bit too overwhelming with the number of characters getting so much time with the spotlight. It does have an interesting premise though, so I’m glad you somewhat enjoyed this. Great honest review as always, Beth. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah in order for all the characters and stories to have enough room to develop properly I feel this needed to be a longer book, still it was a good premise and at the end I still enjoyed reading this book, which is what I like when it comes to the books I pick up. Thanks so much Lashaan! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. First of all, those names. What are they? And second, lackluster character development is a pretty big turnoff for me. But the darker quality of it and the fast-paced writing is something that really appeals to me! I haven’t’ heard of this one, but it definitely sounds like something I would have picked up to read in the library. Even though it’s not perfect, at least it was interesting? I’m glad you enjoyed it for the most part! I might be looking into this one a little later. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Great review, as always Beth! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I think some of them were nicknames but it was never specified if they actually were of it they were actually the characters real names. Kind of another thing missing along with the character development for the most part. I’d maybe say give this one a go if the darker quality of the story is something you’re interested in. The Sacrifice Box is definitely dark and definitely fast-paced so you may enjoy it more than I did. Yeah for the most part this was an entertaining read, which in the end is what I want from the books I pick up. 🙂 Thanks Azia! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I really hope some of them were nicknames, but the fact that the author doesn’t clarify that is a bit problematic haha. But I still might give it a try someday. And no worries! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have this on my tbr 🙂 I’m glad to see that you mostly enjoyed it, but it’s a shame about cramming too much in. Would it have been better as a series? Great review 😊❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In that case I hope you enjoy this one when you pick it up Lauren. There was a lot of potential in this book just too many characters and stories, I feel like it could have worked as a series or a duology. That would have given the characters more room to develop you know?
      Thanks so much. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t actually heard of this book before, I think, but the cover looks amazing. I like everything with a raven on it? Anyway, the story sounds intense and like a lot, so I get what you mean by cramming too much into one book. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a gorgeous cover, and yeah there’s not a lot of buzz going around for this one either. The only reason I was aware of it was because I got an ARC for it. The Sacrifice Box had a lot of potential, it just fell down a little when it came to the pacing you know?
      Thanks Kat. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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