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.
*Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Random House UK Children’s, and NetGalley, for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
In the summer of 1982, five 12-year-old kids started hanging out and despite their different personalities, they did have wonderful times together. While trudging in the forest, they found an ancient box and decided to make a sacrifice to remember their unlikely friendship. Each of them has to leave something in the box that is important to them and recited the rules and vow to follow it. “Never come to the box alone. Never open it after dark. Never take back your sacrifice.” But after that summer, they drifted apart and stopped spending time with each other. Four years later, they all have a different set of friends and drifted apart. But then, strange things started happening to their small island. When some of the gang started having weird experiences, it led them to believe that someone broke the rules. Because their sacrifices are haunting them in the most horrific way. And now, they must work together to stop whatever force is controlling the box or they will all end up dead.
Set on a small island somewhere in the UK, The Sacrifice Box is an atmospheric novel and makes for an entertaining read. This book got me intrigued from the very start and thus, I was engrossed from the first page up to the last. There are three timelines to the story which tells interesting stories. 1982, when five kids, Sep, Arkle, Lamb, Hadley, and Mak spent the happiest summer they’ve ever had. 1986, the five teenagers have to find a way to stop the horrors hounding their town. And another time from the past where there’s another set of children used the sacrifice box. That being said, there’s too much happening and there’s not enough space for each story to develop. There are also a lot of characters to follow, which can be confusing. There are some who’s notable but I would have liked to know more of the other kids instead of focusing too much on Sep. Also, it would have been nice to know more about the sacrifice box, it’s origin or history.
The book is creepy and contains some death of animals which can be disturbing to some. It also didn’t shy away from gory details making it more terrifying. The message about friendship is touching and is something I appreciate. And though the action didn’t let up once it started, there are some instances that I feel was out of place. The ending was a bit of a letdown and I was expecting a bit more than that. It was anti-climactic and the epilogue didn’t really give light to the aftermath that I’m so curious about. However, I did still enjoy the book as a whole. There’s enough mystery, suspense, horror, and even humor that gripped me until the end.