The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart is a YA horror book (whelp) with its fair share of gruesome murderous ehm… things? animals? corpses? and gore, but also with a fun cast of teens!
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 forever. 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 has 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 realize 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.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who didn’t expect a horror novel after reading that synopsis? I normally don’t read horror books, it’s not at all my genre, but I did enjoy reading this one (surprisingly)! The story is about Sep (whose name is actually September), he’s lonely, has no friends and wants to move from the island he lives to the mainland to go to school there and become an engineer. The story is set in the 1980’s but there are flashbacks to what happened before the main storyline.
“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.”
What I really liked about this book was the dark, gruesome and very atmospheric writing. It was so well-written and vivid! I loved that it gave the story more atmosphere. It wasn’t really scary, but I’m not sure it is supposed to be (like I said, I don’t normally read horror), but it was engrossing and made me keep reading! I was really invested in how it was going to end and whether it all was going get a happy ending or not!
A thing that annoyed me, which was not really anything that was wrong, was how there were so many nicknames used in the story! All the teens in the group of main characters use both their real name, last name and nicknames and it was so confusing! I couldn’t tell them apart and that really annoyed me because that way all the character depth and development was lost to me. At one point there was someone named Daniels and for the sake of me, I do not know who the hell this character was.
Yesterday he’d woken up with his world in order: his mum was well, his exams were over, his boarding school application was nearly complete. No obstacles. Everything he’d work for.
And now what?
His mum was getting sick again.
He was bunking off school with the others.
And his teddy bear was trying to kill him.
As a sidenote, I was scrolling through some reviews on goodreads and some mentioned that the book was too gruesome for the YA age range and all of those reviews were written by adults (judging by profile pictures)… I am no teen myself, but as a 21-year old, I think it’s fair to say I think teens and young adults are used to more gore than they (these adults) think. Anyway, if you cannot stand reading about blood, killing of animals or gore, this might not be for you.
“‘We’re all little miracles,’ she said, ‘everything about us: all our stupid habits and our jokes and our weird faces, on a spinning ball that’s a perfect distance from the sun. And now here we are, you and me, sitting on top of a million years of history.'”
I am giving this book 3.5-4 stars because despite that it was completely not as I expected it to be, I really enjoyed the book! The characters were a bit lost to me, but that might just be my quirk. I think you would really like this if you love Stranger Things and horror movies or books!