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  • The Sanatorium

  • Written by: Sarah Pearse
  • Narrated by: Gemma Whelan
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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The Sanatorium

Written by: Sarah Pearse
Narrated by: Gemma Whelan
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

An instant Sunday Times best seller

An instant New York Times best seller

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick

At first glance they're magnificent, yet the more she looks, the more she realises how sinister the mountains appear: raw, jagged spikes. It's not hard to imagine, she thinks, looking out; this place somehow consuming someone, swallowing them whole.

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 fiancée, 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 realised 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....

Check out The Retreat (July 2022), the addictive new thriller from the global best-selling author of The Sanatorium. 

©2021 Sarah Pearse (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Pearse's The Sanatorium will keep you checking over your shoulder. This spine-tingling, atmospheric thriller has it all: an eerie Alpine setting, sharp prose and twists you'll never see coming. A must-read." (Richard Osman, internationally best-selling author of The Thursday Murder Club)

What listeners say about The Sanatorium

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The Sanatorium: Brilliant Premise, Poor and Underw



When I first read the summary of the Sanatorium, I was pretty intrigued. I have always been a lover of locked-in mysteries. The plot of the Sanatorium promised to one hell of a locked-in mystery.
The Sanatorium’s plot mainly revolves around Elin, a London-based police officer under severe PTSD and on leave. Her boyfriend Will and she get invited to Le Sommet, a beautiful resort hidden under the mesmerizingly beautiful Swiss Alps. Elin’s brother Isaac is the one who invites them to this resort to celebrate his engagement with his fiancé Laure.
Right after she gets to Le Sommet, she senses something about the resort is not right. From the resort’s past to the questionable behavior of its staff, Le Sommet is not the straightforward minimalist resort it pretends to be. Soon after, some mishaps occur over there that force Elin, Will, Isaac to get stuck in Le Sommet.
Now, saying anything more than the above will spoil the entire book for you. Before talking about all the things that I hated about this book, let me tell you what I liked.
• The Sanatorium has a beautiful setting. The gorgeous views of the Swiss alps, along with the minimalistic yet beautiful design of the resort, helps you picture the location quite easily.
• There are a lot of twists in the book. (Although most of them are underwhelming). For anyone who loves to read books with a large number of twists, the Sanatorium will not disappoint you.
Sadly the positive aspects of the Sanatorium for me stops at the above two points. Now, the time has come to conjure the negative points about the book. So, here it goes.
• The main character of the book, Elin, is disappointing and exhausting. Creating a detective who is absolutely inept at their job is one of the worse decisions a writer can make for their book. Sadly, Sarah Pearse did that. Elin has zero confidence in herself, constantly wrong, a complete push-over, compromises a lot. She is one of the weakest female characters that I have ever read in any crime novel.
• All the male characters in the Sanatorium are abhorrent. From Will to Elin’s brother, Isaac, they are all condescending and controlling. Other male characters apart from the said two are also quite horrible. You will come to know about them while reading the book.
• Things go downhill for the Sanatorium quite quickly. As soon as you get to chapter five or six, you realize this book will have difficulty regaining your fondness.
• The ending of the Sanatorium is underwhelming and far-fetched.
The Sanatorium could have been a much better book if it concentrated on the resort's history. Instead, it went running to dead ends that mostly had no consequence to the main story. I had a difficult time finishing this book, and that is why I would rate it 4/10.

1 person found this helpful

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Exciting Read

This dark, suspenseful and chilling work is surprisingly Sarah Pearse’s debut novel. The Sanatorium is a crime mystery vividly set against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, in a wonderfully eerie setting. Its sharp prose builds suspense through a series of twists that are crying out for a screen adaptation just for the sake of those beautiful natural wonders. Loved the beginning of the book. the way things were unfolding quickly led me to hope for a fantastic ending. However, it didn't go down as expected. Towards the end, it felt dragged and predictable. Given that it's Sarah's debut, I would definitely give her another chance with her next book. 3.5 stars from me.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-03-21

Good story with nail biting twist.

The story starts slow but picks up midway. Excellent who dunnit story with a disturbing background. Great narration.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicks
  • 04-04-21

not too bad

Great story, good narration, OK writing. But a good thriller that keeps you guessing even if the writing is a bit limited at times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-11-22

Great Whodunnit

Loved this book….. excellent narration, great description…..,,,,the environment we are isolated in is both beautiful and terrifying, then add a killer to the mix….. great read.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Vic Farrell
  • 21-02-22

Seriously?

She started writing a crime novel with no idea where it was going to lead.. lots of back filling later and…. A long tedious explanation about why the people were murdered… I still have no idea why “Lorhgh” was murdered. Perhaps it was due to the ridiculous pronunciation of her name.

Phew… what let down.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-05-21

Elin blinked...

“Elin blinked...” oh please not again. This phrase is irritatingly repeated over and over again as are others. What a disappointment this book is. The premise sounded great but it’s badly done. The story is weak, makes little sense, the characters are awful particularly Elin the lead. She is a terrible detective who seems to have no police training or skills. Loads of plot holes throughout and dialogue is just bad. I just wanted an avalanche and to sweep the entire hotel and it’s contents down the mountain.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Abigail Stephenson
  • 08-02-21

Wow! Brilliant!

So I saw this being talked about on Reese Witherspoons Instagram and as a crime thriller lover knew I had to try it! And it did not disappoint, with so many twists and turns it was impossible to know the outcome (like many crime thrillers nowadays) loved the story something I’ve not heard before and just loved it! Finished it in two days! Cannot wait for the next book! This was brilliant! 100% recommend!

18 people found this helpful

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  • Jpfreestyler
  • 07-02-21

A must read top notch thriller

Wow - The Sanatorium is unputdownable. The description’s are sublime and paint such vivid pictures in my head of the settings and people. I honestly feel I am there sitting in the sanatoriom watching the events unfold. If you love a thriller this one is truly fantastic. So compelling with totally unexpected twists and turns, cleverly written.
I cannot wait to listen and read more from Sarah Pearse. Brilliantly narrated by Gemma Wheaton. This book has a cinematic quality to it and cannot wait to watch this as a film or mini series.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs Jane Duncan
  • 05-05-21

No moment left undescribed

No room for imagination here, the author describes every single thing. It is exhausting. So many ‘slicks’ and ‘smears’ - which is the fundamental trouble with this sort of approach. You run out of words. I won’t be reading anything else by Sarah Pearse.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Kirsten
  • 27-02-21

Somewhat disappointing

Not as good as I had hoped judging from the blurb. The plot was incoherent in places and the narrative lacked psychological credibility. Furthermore the male characters were nasty and unsympathetic, difficult to imagine the main character to have a relationship with such an unpleasant character and the brother was not much better.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-02-21

EXCELLENT

Loved this story. Had me hooked. Can't wait to read her next book. Hope it's soon!

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christian Schuetterle
  • 27-02-21

Great thriller for winter nights...

This was a great thriller for cold winter nights! The author managed to create an intricate story with great twists and turns. Hopefully, this will be the start of a great series!

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Alfie31
  • 25-02-21

Disappointing

Could have been good, but turns out to be nothing more than a basic who done it. Slow and tedious throughout with a very average ending . Great narrator very talented and easy to listen to just a shame about the material she was performing.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-03-21

Nonsensical, yet predictable

Had no substance and too many plot holes. Can I have my 12 hours back?

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M
  • 28-02-21

Very Good

Ear bending Penguin clanging music as usual at the start and a few sound effects but, after that, an even pleasant voice narrating. Accents a bit dodgy in places but did not detract - German sounded more French! I am assuming the person following Elin on the funicular at the end of the story is Hayler. Who else could it be? I usually don't like my crime thriller detectives to have problems that detract from the chase, hope Elin loses Will who must make her feel very guilty about doing her job and lecturing her, so many detectives these days have emotional blocks or someone as a foil to their ambitions.

5 people found this helpful

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  • elizabeth b.
  • 06-02-21

A snowball chance in hell

Long and convoluted story. I’m not sure who killed who nor do I care. Shame.

10 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-21

9 hours of my life I'll never get back

Oh this sounded so promising. And Reese had it as a bookclub pick. I did not like the narration at all, it was so bland. And the story was just contrived, with some character relationships really lacking in depth and leaving so many questions about how they got to be at the point they were. And the overall plot - just too unbelievable and pointless. I so wanted to like this and I had to bear through it all just to see if there was any point to it at the end. There wasn't. Don't waste a credit or your valuable time on this one.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • mairead
  • 02-03-21

Hard work

I really tried with this but it just got worse and worse. Would not recommend; convoluted and without charm.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-03-21

Doesn't fulfill its potential

A good story and the narrator has a nice voice but doesn't create distinct characters so it all gets a bit bland.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-07-21

fantastic read

loved it excellent presentation enthralling has mr caught at the first couple of chapters

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeanette NORMAN
  • 07-01-23

Hard to write a review on this one

This book is hard to review as the prime woman was an absolute self absorbed cow of a woman with her constant anxt at all times. The author never let's up- - her constant lens is her her her BS.

l will buy the next book as when you can and if you can wade through her constant self indulgent anxt there is a fair story to be found.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennyt
  • 30-11-21

something different

really enjoyed listenning to this. lots of twists and turns and something different from usual family dramas

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-10-21

One to concentrate on

It was good but you really had to concentrate and it got rather repetitive at times

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Melle
  • 10-10-21

Hard to Follow

Will have to give this one another listen and I found it hard to follow first time around. The story moves a little too slowly and gets bogged down in some unnecessary details, and then important things are muddied. Overall interesting enough but the ending felt a little crazy. Some interacting themes that don't quite get explored sufficiently.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-09-21

A decent, okay read. Spoilers below.

I didn't find it hard to finish, but I struggled with the 'motive' in relation to the murders. It did not make sense to me to be murdering women as a result of women having been murdered and silences 100 years prior - felt like a bit of a stretch. The characters were decently formed, but I found the main characters self-deprecation frustrating and would have liked more positive interactions between her and others.