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The Sacrifice Box

Review

The Sacrifice Box

In a small, cozy island community off the coast of Scotland, a place of beauty and security, evil has been unleashed. The dark force has poured out of an ancient mysterious box, one innocently encountered by a group of 12-year-old friends four years earlier. The friends, brought together by an otherwise lonely and boring summer, made a promise to each other and offered a sacrifice to the box never imagining that the offerings would come back to haunt and even attack them. One of the five, September Hope, is at the center of Martin Stewart’s new horror novel, THE SACRIFICE BOX.

"THE SACRIFICE BOX is an entertaining and atmospheric novel with plenty of racy language, some solid frights and the sweetness of friendship and love underpinning it all."

Sep, a studious boy without any close friends, finds himself in the summer of 1982 hanging out with wisecracking Arkle, dreamy Hadley, confident Mack and tough Lamb. Sep already feels isolated and confined in the town of Hill Ford and he yearns for life in the city off the island. His mother’s recent battle with cancer has only added to his stress and unhappiness. But his time with Arkle and the others, an unexpected and intense bonding, brings Sep so much joy and a real sense of companionship that he never wants it to end. When they place their items, something important to each of them, in the stone box they mean to cement their friendship and celebrate their summer.

Yet four years later, the five are not the close friends they imagined they would always be and Sep finds himself once again alone. When Sep’s mother seems to be getting sick again and some creepy crows are following him around, Sep is concerned. But when his former friends come to him, accusing him of opening the Sacrifice Box and causing harm, his concern turns to fear. The objects that the kids placed in the box, as well as their emotional intentions, have been twisted by the box itself and the forest around it is diseased, dangerous, and rotten. To end the mayhem that begins wreaking havoc on Hill Ford, Sep and the others must figure out what the box wants and how to stop it. To do so, they must confront their deepest sorrows and fears, and come together as friends again.

Stewart’s story starts slow but is never dull. He takes his time to allow readers get to know September Hope even as the tension mounts. When the action gets rolling, it rolls fast. There is gore aplenty and horror tropes that while conventional remain fun and surprising. Stewart gives readers lots of violence, some real heartbreak, a murderous teddy bear, and some zombie woodland animals --- and still manages to throw in some genuinely funny lines.

Sep is clearly the star of this spooky show, but both Arkle and Lamb are interestingly developed and act as great foils to his brainy problem solving and emotional introspection. There are also several adults in the community that have dealt with the Sacrifice Box themselves and they add a compelling layer to story. THE SACRIFICE BOX is an entertaining and atmospheric novel with plenty of racy language, some solid frights and the sweetness of friendship and love underpinning it all.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on September 20, 2018

The Sacrifice Box
by Martin Stewart