Title: The Sacrifice Box
Author: Martin Stewart
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: January 11th 2018
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 goodreads.com
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.