The Sacrifice Box – Martin Stewart

51wictpwi5l-_sx324_bo1204203200_Set in the 1980’s on a vague island off the mainland, which I guess to be Scotland, although it’s not implicitly said. The story follows a group of young people, who a few Summer’s before had chosen to each leave an item in the Sacrifice box; a stone chest half buried in the middle of a forest. Each speaks the rules, but who goes on to break them?

The Sacrifice Box is wonderfully reminiscent of Stephen King, though much more light hearted. There are elements of the horror that is Pet Semetary but more so the friend group in IT. The ‘banter’ the kids have is simply hilarious and their punchy little one-liners never failed to make me laugh. The whole atmosphere of the book is steeped in 1980’s nostalgia and as someone born in the 80s I was immediately thrown back to the things that we still popular when I was young.

The plot builds nicely, mainly focusing around the experiences of Sep, but intersected by strange little vignettes. It starts off by being simply eerie, and becomes an absolute whirlwind of crazy. Each chapter makes you want to move on the next and I found it really difficult to put down on an evening.

The characters were well drawn and I could easily see them in a Stranger Things type show, each interaction they have rounding them more. They’re all quite vile to each other at times and it nailed my experience of school life completely. The narrative quietly makes that point that childhood doesn’t change that dramatically from generation to generation and that no friendship is ever perfect. I was really on board with Stewart’s writing style and didn’t even roll my eyes at the ridiculous nicknames that every character seems to have.

The humour is offset by some of the truly awful and horrific events that happen to and around the kids, to the point where I wanted to tear my eyes away from the page. I certainly had to put my childhood teddy bear in a box with a heavy lid for awhile. For those who are wanting to read more horror this year I would highly recommend  The Sacrifice Book, it a good way to ease you in.

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