Book Review: The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

I was offered an advance review copy of The Retreat by NetGalley – and having really enjoyed her previous book, The Sanatorium, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t realised at that point that it’s the next book in a series featuring DS Elin Warner – so that was a surprise when I started reading.

For those of you who actually read the blurb before picking up a book, here it is:

This is a warning for all our guests at the wellness retreat.
A woman’s body has been found at the bottom of the cliff beneath the yoga pavilion.
We believe her death was a tragic accident, though DS Elin Warner has arrived on the island to investigate.
A storm has been forecast, but do not panic. Stick together and please ignore any rumours you might have heard about the island and its history.
As soon as the weather clears, we will arrange boats to take you back to the mainland.
In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your stay.

As the book starts it is very reminiscent of Sarah Pearse’s previous book – lots of middle class people in a holiday environment, and again there were a lot of names and connections to juggle in your head – but you can’t blame the author for sticking to a format that worked so well with her debut novel which was a Sunday Times best seller!

There is a family and their other halves on holiday at a wellness retreat which is set on an island off the coast of Devon. The island has had a chequered past – but the recently opened wellness retreat is supposed to give it a new lease of life – and has been designed by Elin’s partner – and his sister is the manager. As with The Sanatorium, you kind of have to suspend your disbelief at co-incidences – of which there are very many!

The family have their own history and relationships which all appear quite fractured – I have to say I didn’t particularly like any of them and wasn’t rooting for one person in particular. However the shared dislike didn’t detract from enjoyment of the book.

Overall it twists and turns and is an enjoyable read. Whilst it would stand alone – I would suggest reading the author’s debut novel would mean you understand Elin’s back story a bit better.

The Retreat was published late July 2022 – so if you like the sound of it you can read it right now.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

Book Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

I was lucky enough to get an advance review copy of this novel which is out in early 2021 – here’s the blurb:

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.
And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancĂ©e Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

The first chapter is weird and disturbing and you’re not really sure how it is going to fit into the story – but you know it’s going to be creepy!

Then Elin’s story starts. She and her boyfriend Will are off to Switzerland to a fancy new hotel that used to be a TB sanatorium where Elin’s long time estranged brother Isaac and his fiancee Laure (who works at the hotel) are celebrating their engagement. It’s clear Elin has suffered a recent trauma as a police detective at work and is off on leave – but also has historic trauma from when hers and Isaac’s younger brother Sam died as a child.

I thought the descriptions of the swanky hotel were great – and I could really imagine it being quite creepy with displays of the old medical instruments as pieces of art.

When the weather turned and a storm set in, it felt quite reminiscent of Lucy Foley’s book The Hunting Party, where everyone is trapped in one place by the weather conditions and you know something awful is going to happen!

Now there are a lot of characters – and at times I found myself getting confused as to whom everyone was and how they were connected – but that could just me by small brain struggling to cope!

There are historic murders, current murders, people missing, a collection of not very likeable characters – and it twists and turns so much you’re not sure who you are rooting for and who is a baddie!

The pace of the book kept me wanting to read more – so I romped through it quite quickly. Whilst it was a little confusing with so many characters involved, overall I really enjoyed the book.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for my advance review copy.