Book Review: The Sanctuary by Ted Dekker

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Some of it is genre research and some of it is just stuff from my favorite authors that I found at the local used bookstore. Of course, every time I go through the mall, I make a pit-stop at the aforementioned bookstore. I always check to see if there’s any Ted Dekker books that I haven’t read.

For those of you who don’t know, Ted Dekker is actually pretty prolific. I own or have read a lot of his stuff. Imagine my surprise when my last bookstore visit went something like: “Got it, got it, got it, read it, got it…got it. Wait do I have that one? (Picks up like-new, hardcover copy of The Sanctuary and skims the flap description.) I don’t think I’ve ever read this one.”

Which leads to my current problem: I don’t know how I feel about this book! Most books I read have some message behind them. The Biblical parallels in The Circle Trilogy (*cough* you can’t add a fourth book to a trilogy *cough*) Series are beautiful and unique. Skin talks the reader through a discussion of true beauty. The Sanctuary guides the reader down a path that I’m sure is laden with something…I just can’t figure out what.

From the very beginning, you’re introduced to two characters with immense love for each other. Renee is a neurotic mess fretting over the fate of her beloved. Danny is behind bars, serving time after confessing to murders Renee committed. Danny’s not so innocent himself. He’s murdered his own fair share of people.

I’m not opposed to a good vigilante story. And after Danny tells you why he killed those people, well you don’t really feel that bad for his victims. The plot comes in where Danny is transferred to an experimental prison run by the Warden. The Warden is intent on “breaking” Danny by torturing him until he renounces his recent vow of nonviolence and kills somebody. The Warden doesn’t really care who, his prisoners are pawns in his creepy game.

Meanwhile, Renee enlists the help of a former cop when she gets a ransom-like “I’ll kill Danny if you don’t do what I want” warning. This sets her and the former cop on a somewhat epic adventure. Here, I’m thinking one female lead, two male leads. One of the men is going to die. That’s just how these things work. Ok, I was wrong; the main characters don’t die. Kudos to Ted Dekker! The only author who I’ve allowed to kill off a main character (without my renouncing his/her books forever and wanting desperately to throw the book and maybe the author across the room) is Dean Koontz. Plus, The Sanctuary twisted things in a way that defied my expectations.

But I’m not sure I’m ok with that this time. No spoilers here: but I was somewhat disappointed in the final reveal. Shocked, yes, that’s always good. But also annoyed. I don’t want THAT to happen. Urgh. Well, it’s not my story and the ending did turn out pretty good anyway but really Mr. Dekker? *loud sighs*

Also, I’m still not sure where the lesson came into this one. If you love someone with love as strong as God’s love for you, you won’t be able to control the need to protect and defend them? I’m just not sure if I’m getting this one.

Overall, it was a good book. Not a favorite of mine but everyone has their own tastes. As usual for a Dekker book, the language was clean. Some fighting, torture, and reference to sexual abuse. Maybe not good for the faint of heart. But if you’re faint of heart, I’d never recommend a Ted Dekker book anyway. They’re too robust. Too scary, too thought-provoking. Too real. Which is why I’ll still keep picking up his books.

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Author: breakthisleap (Jamie Elias)

I am a physics graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis. I am married to an army vet computer scientist and have four kitty cat dependents. I hold on to a mixed bag of interests ranging from reading and writing fiction to action sports and sports cars. And, of course, everything in between.

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