T.W. Malpass had me at “combining 80’s style horror with science fiction” with his review proposal for the eerily good Sanctuary 12.
An obvious homage to the horror great The House on Haunted Hill, Sanctuary 12 brings a depth to the genre that covers a gamut of human emotion, undesirable predicaments, and an intelligent opinion on the power of humanity. The novel itself finds nine strangers who are invariably linked by the ominous, frightful words of a young child. This link amongst them commences their journey towards understanding things about themselves they did not quite know were there, as well as where this young girl is located.
Little do they know, however, is that every single step they take is being intricately planned and organized by the malevolent Mr. Cradleworth. It’s like a massive game for Mr. Cradleworth in that he will do everything and anything within his power to prevent these special nine people to understand their true worth, or to find the mysterious girl who haunts their minds and dreams.
As in many horror/fantasy greats, T.W. Malpass brings the chosen nine, and the reader themselves, on a journey that encompasses places around the world in all of beautiful and grotesque states. Each of these special nine present a different fragment of the human soul, from redemption to justice to hope. Consolidated together they are powerful forces, but taken singularly, they are just as powerful. Malpass demonstrates a quick wit and capacity to present tales that are intriguing and captivating. These nine characters are all interesting on their own, what with their unique backgrounds and lots in life. They could each very well have a standalone novel should Malpass decide to go down that meta-route. United, they are a force to be reckoned with, without all of the cliché super-hero fodder that Hollywood likes to inject into its readers and viewers.
Malpass accomplishes something that only a few authors have successfully achieved. He has created nine separate character studies that lead to a plot that is driven by the quest for discovery. However, it is not the obvious literal discovery of the child that seemingly unites them all that drives them, but it is the goal of understanding themselves that makes Sanctuary 12 such a riveting read. It’s more than a horror novel, it’s a study in every person’s quest to try to understand who they really are.