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The Sacrifice Box

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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.

368 pages, Paperback

First published January 11, 2018

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Martin Stewart

3 books87 followers

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5 stars
270 (13%)
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604 (29%)
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723 (35%)
2 stars
334 (16%)
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118 (5%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 446 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,708 reviews25k followers
December 11, 2017
This is a dark and atmospheric supernatural horror thriller set in the 1980s. The actual location is left mysteriously unclear although we do know that it is an island. It is 1982 and the main character, September 'Sep' Hope and teens Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley have spent the summer together. In the forest they find an ancient stone box to which they each consign important sacrifices to cement their recent friendships. They promise to agree a number of things, including to never return and remove any contents. The disparate friends are no longer together in 1986 but reconnect when it becomes clear one of them has gone behind their backs and broken their pact. Despite their efforts to rectify their mistakes, events begin to slide desperately out of their control as horrific repercussions begin to play out. This is a tense and menacing story with many of the requisite horror tropes of crows, zombies, wicked dolls, and so much more. It touches on the issues of the nature of friendship amongst the young. A creepy and sinister read, ideal for those who enjoy horror. Many thanks to Penguin for an ARC.
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
640 reviews633 followers
October 7, 2018
DISCLAIMER: The Sacrifice Box probably doesn’t even deserve the enjoyment it got from me… “Objectively”, it’s not a good book. It’s pretty bad actually... Subjectively, I had a ton of fun and it was just what I needed, right now.

If you are reading this review, you have caught me in a moment of weakness. I’ve had a really rough week (maybe more like weeks), and I was in desperate need of a little guilty pleasure. Some people grab a horribly cheesy rom-com, some O.D. on chocolate and wine, I indulge in some horror. More specifically: bad horror. Youtuber Chris Stuckman (check him out if you enjoy film reviews) has coined a term that is perfect for those type of horror movies: hilariocity. Something that is such an atrocity that it becomes hilarious.
The Sacrifice Box comes dangerously close to that territory...

I said it in an update after 100 pages; it reads like a B-horror movie in bookform. The further I got into the book, the more I saw the resemblances. We will get to those similarities in a second; don’t worry.

The book actually starts off with the potential to be a good thriller. Read the synopsis and you know what I mean. This first segment has some great eighties horror vibes and has the potential to be a pretty decent thriller. Then around the same 100-page-mark though, the novel completely derails and enters a realm of paranormal absurdity and eighties horror tropes. At this point it basically asks you to either get off the train, or just roll with it. If you roll with it, you are in for a treat…
Seriously, if you don’t plan on reading this at all, I encourage you to click that spoiler button, just to see how hilarious this gets. .
Besides taking that Stephen King approach to trying to make innocent childhood icons creepy, it takes inspiration from more popular horror tropes, which is why I said it reads like a B-movie. It relies heavily on gore and classic imagery (crows, deer, the one mentioned in the spoilerpart) for its scares, and therefore it gets more chuckles and eyerolls out of me than anything else.
Even in its style it mirrors its movie-counterpart. For example, during more tense scenes the novel will sort of “jump cut”, where it switches p.o.v. quickly to obscure what is happening. Chapters will end in “false jumpscares” sometimes, where we are left with a creepy image, only to find out that it was just a friend scaring them.
At times I was wondering whether the book was being self-aware about it. There is a scene where one of the characters tells the groundskeeper (you know… the dude that happens to be a veteran when it comes to dealing with the entity they are up against, just so he can conveniently give you some sweet, sweet expositional dialogue about it) how he’s supposed to act, according to that archetype.

I was really hoping the book would go through with that tongue-in-cheek approach, as it’s really the only way you can go when your plot revolves around … Unfortunately, it takes itself very seriously and actually tries to claw its way out of guilty-pleasure-movie-territory, by adding deeper layers to the backstories of the characters and their friendship. To me, it didn’t succeed at that. It’s all delivered in a way that is too heavy-handed and again: more of the same clichés we have all seen before.

In all reality, it would have been so easy for me to pick this apart for all its faults: clichés galore, gore, pacing issues, writing that is at times pretty clunky… As an example of the latter: I was at first confused about the gender of certain characters, because of the way the author uses pronouns. In some scenes I thought the author referred to Sep as “she”, while he is supposed to be male. Upon rereading a few lines I’d realize the author was referring to his mother with “she”, but the way the sentence is set up is just very awkward. This happened multiple times during the story.
Despite these flaws, I enjoyed myself too much on an “eighties-horror-guilty-pleasure-level” to judge it too harshly.

Would I recommend this book? Probably not. If I were to read it again, I’d probably be a lot harsher. That being said; it was the right book at the right time for me at the moment, and sometimes that’s all you need for a good time.
Profile Image for Kirsty ❤️.
924 reviews45 followers
January 16, 2018

One of the great things I loved about this book was the setting. It’s set in 1986 and the lead characters are just 1 year older than me at the time. It brings about such great memories of bad hair, outlandish dress sense and some fabulous music. I’d give it all the stars just for setting alone.

Four years previously the gang, after a wonderful summer each made a sacrifice to a stone box they find in the woods (do these things ever end well??). As you can imagine this comes back to haunt them as, now estranged as friends, one of them opens the box in a fit of loneliness wanting to get the gang back together. It has disastrous consequences.
Turns out back during WW2 another set of youths did the same thing. Opening up the box in 1986 sets the monstrous sacrifices free to murder.

As mentioned, I loved the setting of 1986. I also liked it being set on a small island (Arran possibly based on the blurb at the back). So often thrillers are based in big cities but I felt the smaller setting worked to increase the sense of fear and horror and make the book even more tense.
The bulk of the book is set over just a few days so the pace is fast, it’s a real page turner.

I loved all the little headings, I loved the characters. The main 5 all reminded me of 80’s films – your Stand By Me’s and your Goonie’s and again it harks back to my own school days. I could probably give each of the characters names from my own childhood. So for me very relatable.

It’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s horror and humour. Basically it has everything. Did I mention I loved it??

Free arc from netgalley
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
853 reviews378 followers
November 5, 2019
2.5 stars. Lots of fun 80s vibes and a bit of creepy stuff, but lacking in the characters.

Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after dark.
Never take back your sacrifice.

Soooo, I kind of forgot I hadn't reviewed this one yet. Whoops. Let's fix that.

Riding the unstoppable train of nostalgia and creepy charm that is Stranger Things, Martin Stewart's sophomore novel, The Sacrifice Box unfortunately fails to stand out from the crowd. The pacing was alright, it's an easy enough read. But I'm afraid that's one of the few things it has going for it. And there was so much potential to explore - the frailty of friendship, blood sacrifice, trust, growing up. But the story barely dipped a toe into that pool.

I think the two main factors keeping this from succeeding were the scare factor and the characters.

At times the scares feel too light, almost on the bottom of the YA or the top of middle grade. With a few tweaks, I think this would have much more success as a novel for the 8 to 12ish crowd. I found the stuff with the crows decently spooky, but I am terrified of birds. So that's an easy win. But, I mean, a possessed teddy bear - yes seriously, a possessed teddy bear - is hard to make truly scary. Scratch that, it's impossible to make scary.

Also with how juvenile everything else seemed, the gore factor seemed out of proportion. There were quite a few mutilated animal corpses! For a book that reads younger, it went heavy on the blood.

It's also very jumpy. The transitions between scenes were sometimes abrupt and confusing. And the exposition could be about as subtle as James Bond's flirting game.

Then there's the character stuff. Sep, the main protagonist, is the only one given a hint of depth. Everyone is just forgettable. Some of the best known classics set in the 80s (Stranger Things, Stand by Me, The Goonies,) have stood the test of time because the friendship between the young characters is powerfully woven. Here, the friendship doesn't get much beyond the words on the page.

Which of course, it's impossible to build a convincing story of friendship between five friends when each individual character feels like nothing more than a few basic character points, checked off of a checklist.

Overall, I can't say The Sacrifice Box is a good book. I've read worse, (much much worse,) but unfortunately this one fails to shine. With inconsistent scares and barely developed characters, all the great plot potential has nowhere to go.

Also, the whole evil teddy bear thing didn't help anything.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Viking Books for the DRC
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,738 reviews709 followers
August 29, 2018
DNF at 34%

I loved this synopsis and the cover and was so eager to get to this.

This cast of characters is fairly large and I couldn’t connect to any of them, especially with the jumping around in POVs. I don’t know if it was the formatting on my e-arc, but everything felt choppy and underdeveloped.

Plot wise, it was slow. I know I didn’t give it too much, but I expect something compelling to have happened when I’m a third of the way into a story. There was nothing captivating me. I did skip to the end and read the last two chapters, but it wasn’t enough to get me to want to continue.

I’m not going to rate it because I know several people who loved it and I trust their opinion. Perhaps it would have gotten better for me. However, I also take note of the multiple reviews that mention gratuitous animal abuse and mutilation and I don’t want to read any part of that.

**Huge thanks to Viking Books for Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,805 reviews795 followers
September 26, 2021
Rarely do I dislike a book enough to give it one single star. Normally I can find something to at least boost it up to two but this book had absolutely ZERO that did anything for me. It was a struggle from start to finish and actually took me 8 whole days to read. I can’t remember the last time a book took me so long to get through. I just kept putting it off because it was so awful it was almost painful to read. There’s nothing redeeming here, it was just all around unpleasant.
Profile Image for Lia.
340 reviews94 followers
January 1, 2018
Please tell me I’m not the only one who didn’t expect a horror novel after reading that synopsis? I normally don’t read horror books, it’s not at all my genre, but I did enjoy reading this one (surprisingly)! The story is about Sep (whose name is actually September), he’s lonely, has no friends and wants to move from the island he lives to the mainland to go to school there and become an engineer. The story is set in the 1980’s but there are flashbacks to what happened before the main storyline.

“They spoke the words–the rules of the sacrifice.
‘Never come to the box alone,’ they said, hands unmoving.
‘Never open it after dark,’ they said, fingers joined together.
‘Never take back your sacrifice,’ they finished–then let go.”

What I really liked about this book was the dark, gruesome and very atmospheric writing. It was so well-written and vivid! I loved that it gave the story more atmosphere. It wasn’t really scary, but I’m not sure it is supposed to be (like I said, I don’t normally read horror), but it was engrossing and made me keep reading! I was really invested in how it was going to end and whether it all was going get a happy ending or not!

A thing that annoyed me, which was not really anything that was wrong, was how there were so many nicknames used in the story! All the teens in the group of main characters use both their real name, last name and nicknames and it was so confusing! I couldn’t tell them apart and that really annoyed me because that way all the character depth and development was lost to me. At one point there was someone named Daniels and for the sake of me, I do not know who the hell this character was.

Yesterday he’d woken up with his world in order: his mum was well, his exams were over, his boarding school application was nearly complete. No obstacles. Everything he’d work for.
And now what?
His mum was getting sick again.
He was bunking off school with the others.
And his teddy bear was trying to kill him.

As a sidenote, I was scrolling through some reviews on goodreads and some mentioned that the book was too gruesome for the YA age range and all of those reviews were written by adults (judging by profile pictures)… I am no teen myself, but as a 21-year old, I think it’s fair to say I think teens and young adults are used to more gore than they (these adults) think. Anyway, if you cannot stand reading about blood, killing of animals or gore, this might not be for you.

“‘We’re all little miracles,’ she said, ‘everything about us: all our stupid habits and our jokes and our weird faces, on a spinning ball that’s a perfect distance from the sun. And now here we are, you and me, sitting on top of a million years of history.'”

I am giving this book 3.5-4 stars because despite that it was completely not as I expected it to be, I really enjoyed the book! The characters were a bit lost to me, but that might just be my quirk. I think you would really like this if you love Stranger Things and horror movies or books!
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,470 reviews1,005 followers
January 15, 2018
The synopsis for this one sounded so dark and brilliant (even as YA) that I was really looking forward to it - I read it fast, it is an easy read in that sense, but honestly it missed the mark for me on quite a few levels.

That is not to say that it is not entertaining. It is in many ways but for me more as a bang through kind of thing rather than feeling any depth or substance. Having said that descriptively speaking this author has a certain something that has made me want to read his next book - I think the problem here was lack of character levels.

With the exception of Sep I didn't really feel I got to know the gang with enough engagement to make me care what was happening. His need to leave the island and the 80's setting were probably the strongest parts of The Sacrifice Box for me - the wider horror story just feeding into his personality enough to keep me reading.

The premise is sound but the execution is a little wishy washy. While I think the target market will probably love it, this was not one of those young adult novels that spoke to me on a higher level.

Fast, with a certain fun element but nothing stand out.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,898 reviews1,641 followers
January 6, 2018
Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley are five friends who are thrown together one hot, sultry summer. They discover a stone box hidden in the forest and they decide to make a sacrifice: something special to them. They make a pact, they will never return to the box at night, they will never visit alone and they will never take back their offerings. Four years later the gang has drifted apart. Then strange events take place. One of them has broken the pact.

I did not like that lots of animals die in this book (some readers will find this quite upsetting). This is quite a scary read considering it is written for teens and young adult readers. Some of the descriptions are quite gory and there is quite explicit descriptions of death. It is well written with a decent pace.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK, Children's and the author Martin Stewart for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,456 reviews84 followers
May 28, 2018
I've always enjoyed horror books, while hating that they scare me at the same time. Although this one wasn't too scary, it had enough scary/gross out moments that I could appreciate it. Basically it is the story of five friends who are driven together for just one summer, and then when High School begins are driven apart again by well, High School. That one Summer they had together, they discovered a box and each put a sacrifice in, vowing to never remove them, never visit the box alone, and never come after dark. Of course, rules are meant to be broken.

This sets off a chain of mysterious events that I guess never really get fully explained. I would have liked to know more about the box, more about how the average person reacted to Kitty terrorizing the nighbourhood after getting hit by a car etc etc. While I felt like there were moments where things could have been better explained and the story veered off course, it was action filled and very graphic writing.

I've seen a few reviews compare to Stranger things/Stephen King, but this story holds its own too. Four stars.
Profile Image for Kate.
606 reviews513 followers
May 28, 2018
Creepy AF! But super fun. Really enjoyed this one!
Profile Image for Mehsi.
12.3k reviews374 followers
March 29, 2018
"Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after dark.
Never take back your sacrifice."

A few simple rules, but you would be surprised how people get it wrong, and not only that, but people think that the box is all sweet and kind intentions. Hello, I could have told you from the beginning that suspicious boxes in the middle of dark forests are not to be messed with, but did anyone listen? No, no. And look what has happened. So much horror, so much blood, so much terror.

This is one of those books I have been looking forward to for some time, and then I spotted while I was in the UK for a short vacation and wanted it even more. Sadly, I couldn't bring it with me. Yay for carry on baggage and me wanting to bring other souvenirs back as well (plus I already had 2 or 3 books with me to bring back :P). And then when we got home my boyfriend sweetly surprised me by buying this book! <3 Thanks sweetie!

This book was amazing, it was everything I hoped, and more! It was creepy, it was a big NOPE NOPE NOPE *flails and hides*, it had a few eye roll moments, it was fun. It was just perfect. I didn't feel bored one moment, though I have to say that I sometimes wanted to stop reading because it was a bit gruesome at points (and that escalated as the story progressed).

Our MC is Sep, though we also have POVs of other characters. These characters may seem insignificant at first, but believe me everyone plays a role. Everyone has something to do with either Sep or the box. Sure, I didn't always like all the characters, for instance it took me quite a bit of time to get used to Mario (he was just odd and his way of speaking was quite distracting). And some characters I could never like... Daniels, the bully.

Not only does the book have multiple POV but we also have 3 different times. First up is 1982, the summer when Sep was friends with Arkle, Lamb, Mack, Hadley and that was also the summer they did the sacrifice. Next is 1986 which is the current year, and the year everything will go wrong and it will bring these friends back together in a way they didn't expect. Then there is 1941 when another group of kids was tricked by the box. And yes, this time is also important. Very much so even, you may not know it first, but then you see all the connections, the web that leads from 1941 to 1982 and to 1986. I definitely went: OMG, it is that girl! at a point, and then some more OMG when I saw other connections.

The box is definitely out to kill. Not only those who broke its rules, and those who didn't get what it was capable of, but everything. Believe me, these kids, this whole island is in for one hell of a freaky ride.

I just loved how the author wrote the creepy parts, he did an amazing job on them. Believe me I was often quite terrified, as a lot of these things happened at night. Later on it also started to happen at other times. Then there was the gore, not really my favourite thing in books (or shows/movies), but it does fit perfectly with this book (and even if I want to deny it, that one scene where they had to do x to Sep to remove y was disgusting as hell and I was cringing so hard and I almost had to puke, but even that one fitted, though I could have done without it *shivers*). It shows that the box is clearly not afraid to show its power. It is a real killer of a box. :P They should have really thought before they put in the stuff they did. Then again, I can imagine these kids just thought it was harmless fun. It was something to remember the summer and their friendship.

I am still not entirely sure what to make of Sep. He seems like a great guy, and I can also imagine that he may just not trust his friends that much given that, from his POV, they dropped him as soon as school started. They haven't tried to contact him once (well... neither did he), he is getting bullied and no one does a thing. It was interesting that he was deaf, or at least half. How that happened, well I thought it was like this from birth.. but Sep hasn't had the easiest life. That is all I will say.

There is also a bit of romance and I have to say that it wasn't weird or out of place, if anything I found myself rooting for the two and enjoying the moments of light-heartedness in the whole chaos that was starting to take place.

The other characters, Lamb, Hadley, Mack, Arkle? I quite liked them when we really started to get to know them. Saw their quirks, their personalities, their ways of talking. Even though I am against putting things on fire, I did like that Arkle had a knack for setting stuff on fire. Lamb? It took me a while to like her. She was just so bossy, at times rude, and I also didn't like how she immediately went to point a finger to Sep instead of maybe thinking that it may be someone else entirely.

I also adore the book takes place in 1986, such a special year for me. And it was fun to see walkmans, nintendo consoles, and all sorts of other stuff again. Plus horror just becomes creepier when you can't contact each other as easily as one can in these years. No cellphones, no mail!

Who opened the box/who broke the rules? I have to say that until it was revealed I had absolutely no clue. I went through my head pass all the suspects, but I just couldn't figure it out. Thanks author for making it not that obvious. *thumbs up*

The ending was even more of a rollercoaster. If you aren't strapped in already, get ready to add a few more straps and buckles. :P I did think what happened with the box/Sep at the end was a bit weird and it did feel slightly rushed/incomplete, but I still liked it. I think I just didn't want the book to end just yet.

My boyfriend also had quite a laugh as I was NOPE NOPE NOPING quite a few times, and not that softly either (sorry neighbours, I know it was late evening, but I just couldn't stop myself). :P

Plus points to the cover!

Well, I think I have mentioned the important parts that I wanted to tell, of course I could still rave about this book a bit longer, but I don't think people want to read a book-sized book review for a book.

So I will end with this: I would highly, VERY highly recommend this amazing book to everyone. If you are looking for a very creepy, at times a bit gore-filled, story be sure to check out this book. Plus it features some fabulous and interesting characters.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,744 reviews167 followers
September 28, 2018
"The sacrifice box's terrible pulse beat through him, through the soles of his feet and the pores of his flesh, the vibrations of a drumbeat he could no longer hear but which hammered at him still with all its strength."

An interesting horror story - bloody and gory and full of sadness and regret. It's a dark book, with very little hope or light or good - there are so many sad deaths and so much loneliness. The ending tied it all together and at least let us know how it all ended.
Profile Image for Demi Nolan.
244 reviews13 followers
February 8, 2018
This book was incredible. Think Stranger Things but a lot Stranger! It is such a good story about friendship and love. It was more of a thriller, which I don’t tend to read, but this may have changed my mind! I must get my hands on some more of Stewarts books, his writing style really caught my attention right from the start!
Profile Image for Carlos.
617 reviews291 followers
November 25, 2018
Very weak book, no understandable plot and no profound minor characters. Recommend it for a very light reading .
Profile Image for Kirsty Hanson.
313 reviews55 followers
April 8, 2018
I had to read The Sacrifice Box for the monthly book club at my local Waterstones. The premise of the book sounded so interesting! I love books that focus on friendship, and I do love a good thriller/horror novel! So this sounded like a perfect read for me.

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.

Ok so wow this book was so different to what I was expecting it to be, and I don't even know whether I mean that in a positive or negative way. For the first 110 pages of the book, I just couldn't' get into it; I don't know what it was about the plot that made me not want to carry on reading it, but it just wasn't grasping my attention. And then... At about the 100 page mark, there was a walking, talking teddy bear, and for me that was it. I just couldn't read anymore. I imagined Ted (from the Ted films) and then the teddy bear from that one Supernatural episode mixed together... It was just... not funny... or scary... For me, it came across as well... stupid.

I stopped reading it for about a couple of weeks because I didn't want to read about some weird teddy bear. But then, I decided that I should probably finish it because I hate DNF'ing books because you never know whether they're going to get better (or worse).

"Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after dark.
Never take back your sacrifice."

- Martin Stewart, The Sacrifice Box

So I carried on... and to my surprise, it actually DID get better. The book got a lot more exciting as more action was taking place and there were zombies (?) I've put a question mark because I'm not 100% sure that they were even zombies. But basically, birds would die (or people), and then they would come back to life (which is a zombie trait) and it was just strange. Stewart didn't write that they were specifically zombies, but they definitely came across like that. And zombies DEFINITELY WERE NOT advertised on the blurb. BUT, they weren't a main part of the story, they come in towards the end of the novel.

Also, I really do not understand how these five people became friends in the first place. There didn't seem to be any emotional connection between them, they had nothing in common and if anything, they came across as hating each other... Another strange element of the book. And it doesn't help that I didn't really have an emotional connection with the characters because we never spent a lot of time with any of the characters (apart from Sep, since he was our main protagonist), so I just didn't feel anything for them.

Overall, I had quite high expectations of this book because the blurb reminded me of Stranger Things and it sounded like something that I would be interested in. However, it did let me down, hence it being a 3 star book for me. I didn't love it, and I didn't hate it. I'm glad I've finally read it but I can safely say that I don't think that I'm going to be re-reading it anytime soon.
Profile Image for Beyond Birthday.
146 reviews230 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-or-not-to-read'
February 19, 2020
"A horror story about friendship, growing up, and finding a place in the world: Gremlins meets The Breakfast Club by way of Stephen King and Stranger Things."

Did you forget anything? How about The Shawshank Redemption meets Pretty in Pink? A pinch of Hamlet? A hint of MacGyver meets Orange is the New Black meets Mad Max with hints of Supernatural? Some Pirates of the Caribbean meets Blair Witch Project, perhaps? A vibe of Game of Thrones meets Fright Night? A dash of The Shining meets The Handmaid's Tale, since you're at it?

Publishers, if you're reading this: stop that. Stop pitching books like this; it's so fucking annoying, off-putting and even insulting to the author. Did you even consider that Martin maybe didn't have any of that shit in mind? Why is always shit #1 meets shit #2. Do you think us all so stupid that you have to give us some pop culture/classics reference for us to get a simple summary?
Profile Image for andrea.
690 reviews130 followers
January 17, 2020
DNF - unchallenged homophobia, ableist bullying of a deaf person, death of an animal, and a vet who romanticizes putting dogs down (i.e. talks wistfully about looking into a puppy's eyes and dreaming about killing it). No. Screw this book.
Profile Image for Rachael.
348 reviews35 followers
January 9, 2018
I don't know where to even begin. How am I meant to explain the multitude of emotions that coursed lme every night when I picked this book up?

The Sacrifice Box is both touching and terrifying and I don't quite know how that works so well. I finished this book at 2:30am and even now I'm still not sure how to feel.

Don't look into the plot before reading.
It's so much more fun to work it out based on a vague synopsis.

There is a box. A group of friends discover it and each place items into the box as a sacrifice. They swear to follow three rules: Never come to the box alone; Never open it after dark; Never take back your sacrifice. This is what happens when the rules are broken.

That's all I knew when going into the book and I admit to being pretty confused in the beginning when everything was very vague and people were asking questions and getting non-answers in return. But it's one of those books. It kind of gave me We Were Liars vibes for a while, but I actually understood this book a little more. You go from knowing absolutely nothing to knowing it all, and it's a bit of a jigsaw.

It was a very creepy jigsaw as well. I don't want to give anything away, but no wonder why everyone uses dolls and crows when it comes to horror. It's bloody terrifying. It had a great dark, atmospheric feel to it, causing me to jump at the slightest noise in my house.

It was also very graphic. Now I may be a scaredy-cat when it comes to horror, so even the littlest of things can creep me out, but I am usually okay when it comes to gory scenes. I was not okay reading this. I will warn any of you animal lovers that it does include a lot of graphic and gruesome animal deaths, and a little more. I was very disturbed by these parts of the book and it made me so sad to see them like this.

But on a less creepy note, I was surprised to find out just how touching this story was. From what I've just said, you're probably wondering how that is possible? The answer is: I don't know. I still can't understand it at all.

I loved that there was a strong focus on friendship, and what real friendship is meant to be. I actually found myself being really touched by the characters.

I did find it difficult to feel for all the characters. I just feel like some we really didn't get to know as well. I understand Arkle so well but I still don't really know Lamb all that well. There were a lot of characters to keep track of during the book so at times it was a little confusing. I just couldn't figure out what motives were behind some of their actions at certain points.

But I will say I never predicted what was going to happen. I was constantly on edge throughout this story but every time I thought it was headed in one direction it would twist and leave me confused all over again. While frustrating, I appreciate that it wasn't blatantly obvious.

Despite the nightmares I will probably have from this book, I really enjoyed it. I gave it 4/5 stars and I can't wait for its release!
Profile Image for Hannah.
489 reviews34 followers
January 8, 2018
I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I first heard of this book when watching YALC vlogs last year and was immediately excited for it- anything reminiscent of Stranger Things has me immediately interested!

For about the first 25% I didn't understand the Stranger Things link at all but it becomes clear the further into the book you get. The intense friendship that is formed between the main characters both in the summer they make their sacrifices and trying to deal with the box's consequences was fairly well explored although there was no real explanation of why their initial friendship broke down so quickly. Mario is an angel and his relationship with Sep was so pure and gorgeous it hurt my little heart (in a good way of course).

The writing was spooky and atmospheric and freaked me out more than once! I think it's really well done for a YA thriller/horror and I definitely felt like I was a part of the story. I also really liked the inclusion of the original users of the box- this was a really interesting subplot and again done very well by the author.

Although a lot happens in this book and it's pretty fast paced, the most important aspect for me was the relationships. Parent/child, teacher/student, employer/employee, budding romantic relationships and friendships were all beautifully handled. The ending also offered closure for every character and felt totally natural.

I'll definitely be looking out for more from this author and recommending this book to people all the time.

Side note: there are a good few reviews on here that have confused me. There a couple stating that the friendship group is all boys when it's actually 3 boys 2 girls. Another couple say it's set on an island off New York but that isn't the case, it's a UKYA book set on an island which I believe is off the coast of Scotland but this could be wrong. It's definitely somewhere in the UK though.
Profile Image for ivy francis.
546 reviews28 followers
June 7, 2019
Full review: https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com...

A dark and deep YA thriller from across the pond in the style of classic 80s horror fiction. When strangely familiar things start happening in their hometown, five friends must reunite to fight monsters and untangle the terrifying history of a mysterious box hidden deep in the woods. The characters and their relationships were are so interesting, and while the idea was obviously inspired by classic thrillers, it was still very original and cool. This book is so cinematic, I want nothing more than to see it adapted to the screen. Overall, it was a nasty and terrifying book that somehow also made some really good points about love, and all it’s different forms. Rating: Five Haunted Teddy Bears/Five

For fans of: Stephen King, Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero, Stranger Things

Favorite quotes:
- “Sometimes death is great kindness, and you must be brave.”
- “The only there is in the world, at the end, is love.”
- “My mum said that, when the world’s tearing itself apart, love is the only thing that can fix everything… That if we just loved each other a little more, all the darkness would go away.”
- “We’re all little miracles,” she said, “everything about us: all our stupid habits and our jokes and our weird faces, on a spinning ball that’s the perfect distance from the sun. And now here we are, you and me, sitting on top of a million years of history.”
June 3, 2018
What in the world did I just read. I’m pretty sure this is one of the craziest things I’ve read this year.. maybe even ever. But anyway this was a story of love, friendship.. nightmares, horror, killer teddy bears, creepy crows and pretty much killer everything. I don’t know what I was expecting when I went into this book but it definitely wasn’t that. I’ll be honest this book is a little scary and violent and I’m glad I’m reading it in the daytime as I’m a little bit of a wimp. The thing is it literally comes out of nowhere. Arkle is my favourite character in this book. Even if he had a thing for an inside out (literally) squirrel called Rosemary. Yes it’s that kind of book.

This was such a quick read and I couldn’t stop or put it down as I had to know what happened to the group and what else the box had in store for them. My main gripe is that I received a copy of this from netgalley and in some of the chapters there was no spacing so all the words ran together which made it hard to read. However I’m grateful for the chance to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,205 reviews1,329 followers
January 29, 2018
When a group of friends discover a stone box that they find in the woods they each make a sacrifice - something that's special to them with only three simple rules:
Never come to the box alone
Never open it after dark
Never take back your sacrifice.

Four years later, strange events start to occur. Who has broken one of the rules and how will they pay?

80's nostalgia is certainly popular at the moment and can fully understand why people would compare this book to Stranger Things, but I feel that it's more of an homage to Stephen King.

There's obviously Stand By Me because of the time period, I felt the story also had nods towards Kings other works in the second half of the book. The Shining is also mentioned a couple of times too!

The book certainly has some gory bits, fans of the horror genre will certainly love this.
Profile Image for Jesse.
312 reviews6 followers
June 3, 2022
An atmospheric, beautifully written, yet savage piece of '80s flavored British horror. Frequently shocked me with its levels of violence, combined with the sumptuous writing and creepy set pieces, all adding up to an entertaining, dark little thing.
Profile Image for Andy.
2,527 reviews208 followers
May 28, 2019
What is this book about? From what I remember, and that is very little, it's about a group of friends and this box that haunts them. Yes a box haunts them. Why you ask?? Because they gave it a sacrifice and now it has some sort of mystical power over them. While this might be an intriguing concept, I wasn't impressed with this book at all.

The main issue I have with this book is that it was completely bland. Nothing really drew my interest to this and the narrator didn't help either. I didn't care about any of the kids and couldn't be bother to really remember what was happening to them.

For me, this story was a bust. I can't even tell you one memorable thing that occurred while I was listening to this book. And I don't really care that I don't remember anything? I feel like that speaks more than just not connecting to it. Maybe it's because I'm not a horror person, I don't know, but this book was not for me.
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,459 reviews352 followers
March 13, 2020
Oof this one was so much horror and gore it brought me right back to my Point Horror obsessing, Spooksville loving teenage years and I freaking loved it. Okay, it was a little bit slow in some places, but it's hard for me to not love a book that involves a genuinely terrifying, murderous.... teddy bear? If that little shit gives me nightmares tonight I'm putting all my teddies in the attic.
Profile Image for Susan.
663 reviews21 followers
August 27, 2018
The Sacrifice Box is of the Horror Genre, I believe you can expect it to be disturbing. However I’m trying to get better at trigger warnings. There is, in this particular book a good bit of animal violence, overall violence, bullying

Also- very minor spoilers. I’m going to deviate in my review from other reviews I’ve seen because I always try to add something different to the mix when possible.

Four out of Five Stars
Martin Stewart‘s second book, The Sacrifice Box is released, tomorrow August 28th.

Penguin Random House (Viking Imprint) provided the ARC for a fair review and will be donated to the Saint Louis Public Library for Circulation.

What are the rules of the Fight Club?

You do not talk about Fight Club.
You DO NOT talk about Fight Club!
If someone yells “stop!”, goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over.
Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight.
You might be asking why I’m bringing up Fight Club in a review of Sacrifice Box but lets be honest. Is there ever not a good time to bring up Fight Club? And did it ever go well to break the rules of Fight Club? Right. Plus, like Fight club, this box has a set of rules.

Never come to the box alone.
Never open it after Dark.
Never take back your sacrifice.
All seems straightforward, right? When is anything straight forward for twelve-year-olds I ask you. Taking a lot of the best parts of Stephen King, Stewart starts off Stand by Me and goes straight to It in Final Jeopardy, without the thirty-year time skip (well, not for Mack, Hadley, Lamb, Arkle, and Sept). In the summer of 1982 five friends who spend a summer bonding put five sacrifices in a box, make a pact on the rules and leave. Four years later? This where our faithful heroes stand.

As you walk on by Will you call my name? As you walk on by Will you call my name? When you walk away Or will you walk away? Will you walk on by?

Each is dealing with their own individual traumas: having lost family members, self-esteem, being bullied as the nerd, for sexual preference. These things have torn them apart rather than having brought them together. Here would be where my only criticism lies. There is so much going on at once that it is really only Sept that we every truly get to know in depth. While I want to praise Stewart for going with an omniscient point of view (which is rare these days in young adult novels), I do wonder if going character by character point of view in stead might have given each character more depth and more connection to the reader.

Meanwhile, while our group of friends have been torn apart, the otherworldly box holding the long-forgotten summer of memories and sacrifices has begun to unearth itself and unleash and a horror all its own that will either further rip them to shreds (literally? You’ll have to read the book) or bring them together. The box holds yet another secret from long ago from a group of kids who once held and broke the same ritual during World War II in the 1940s. Let’s just say that piece of history isn’t done writing its tale, either. Stewart uniquely takes all this and mixes intensity and creepiness with the kind of humor cartoons like the Animaniacs, Bugs Bunny and Rug Rats won Emmys year after year (and we all watched). You know the kind… you knew as a kid it was funny, but you weren’t sure why? And you definitely didn’t understand until 20 years later what you mom and dad found so hilarious? For instance, there is a scent that I dare a teacher, parent or student to not laugh at:

“You mean my story?” said Arkle.

“I mean your story, yes”

What was wrong with it? I used everything on your list.”

Arkle fumbled with the papers o his desk and produced a crumpled sheet that was stained with food. “Setting, characterization, dialogue, theme, plot,” he read. “I did all that, like. In order.”

Mrs. Woodbank took off her glasses and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Those are the tools of a writer’s craft,” she said. You’re not meant to do them one at a time.”

Ok. Maybe it is me as an ELA specialist for fifteen years and having known, observed or had these conversations but that caused me to spit water all over my poor unsuspecting cat when I read it. That wasn’t the only time, either. Completely relatable and completely on point to multiple generations.

Finally, I rarely get to talk about motif very often but the cover of this book world-wide is quite different than the version I have. You can see it on Goodreads, or Google. That along with some hints throughout the book brought me back to a duology near and dear to my hear from the past couple of years. I am not going to offer you the whole connection out right. Instead I’m going to leave you without a parting quote.

During the Six of Crows/Crooked by Leigh Bardugo Crows Duology Kaz Brekker, head of the Dregs is asked why he decided on the Crows for the head of his walking cane. He could’ve picked anything. He could’ve started a whole new moniker, symbol. Kaz simply responded with the following- something I’ve come to ask around about and it seems to be embedded pretty deeply in folklore, myths and wife’s tales….

“Crows remember human faces. They remember the people who feed them, who are kind to them. And the people who wrong them too. They don’t forget. They tell each other who to look after and who to watch out for.”- Kaz Brekker

Let’s just say the crows and maybe other forces in this novel are no different than the ones Kaz Brekker has in mind, nor the ones he often models himself after.
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