Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden
Right from the first chapter my attention was riveted and propelled forward by the fast paced story. The suspense didn’t allow me to rest until I had finished the book a few hours later, with few interruptions, all in one sitting.
It was a little difficult for me to discern which genre this story fits most into, categorically. The opening event, an alien invasion, qualifies it as a science fiction tale with apocalyptic overtones when one third of the world’s population is destroyed by the poisoned water supply and the darkening of the sun. Since it is fast paced and filled with suspense, I would also call this a thriller or suspense thriller.
When vicious lion-like dog creatures are released from the alien ships and began attacking people worldwide, the book ups the ante to the horror genre as these victims were infected with either parasites or a virus that removed their humanity turning them into zombie creatures that wouldn’t die. For me, this part of the book was most disturbing with vivid scenes and some gore, since I try to avoid reading anything of this genre. The author’s descriptive language is so effective it raised the hairs on my arms and sent a chill down my back while reading about the victims. However, for readers who enjoy the presence of zombies in their books, this could be appealing. The “wailers” become a major element of danger that drives the suspenseful action forward since it seems to be their goal to attack the uninfected and spread the disease.
One of the main characters central to this story is Jennie Ransom, a college student living at home between semesters. She was just about to return to school when her mother was attacked by the alien creatures, the event that set in motion the heart-pounding events to follow. Arriving at the hospital with her five-year-old brother Mickey in tow, Jennie witnessed horrors as the patients became violent before her eyes. She teamed up with Pastor Billy Crawford at the hospital to search for her parents, but eventually lost them both. She and Mickey found themselves in a struggle to survive. The pastor had already set up his church as a well-provisioned sanctuary for survivors; once she and Mickey arrived, Jennie found time for some soul searching. The young adult genre and spirituality can be added to the mix.
Another main character is high school biology teacher Hugh Harris, a scientist working on his PhD in animal behavior and psychology. During the televised coverage of the creature attacks, Hugh made several observations he wanted to share with authorities. When he learned that some military bases were opening to uninfected refugees, he was determined to leave the protection of his locked-down apartment complex to make his way to the nearest base. He encountered Jennie and Mickey on the way to join other survivors at the church sanctuary. In spite of the lack of electric power and fuel, a small group eventually made it to the military base nearby.
Even with military protection, the bases were still susceptible to attacks from marauding bands of creatures. At one point, the base where Pastor Crawford’s group had found refuge was invaded; Hugh and the pastor were attacked and infected. Hugh survived but Pastor Crawford did not. It was then that Jennie realized she had feelings for Hugh, and likewise Hugh was attracted to the strong person Jennie was becoming in the face of all this tragedy. And what had seemed a completely hopeless situation before the scientist’s arrival became hopeful. His observations may help some survive.
In spite of crossing a multitude of genre boundaries, including a little light romance, the author somehow makes it all work. There is a blend that makes this an exciting tale for many demographics. Since the story ended without a definite conclusion, I hope there are plans for a part two some time in the near future.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author, Pauline Creeden and AltWit Press. 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: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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