The Sacrifice Box

The Sacrifice Box

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...

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Title:The Sacrifice Box
Author:Martin Stewart
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Sacrifice Box Reviews

  • Kirsty 📚📖❤️

    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,

    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

  • Renee Godding

    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

    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

    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 truly enjoyed myself too much on an “eighties-horror-guilty-pleasure-level” to judge it too harshly.

    Would I recommend this book? I really don’t know. 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.

  • Lia

    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.

    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!

  • Paromjit

    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 rem

    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.

  • Sassy Brit

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    When a bunch of kids, September "Sep" Hope, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley discover an ancient stone box, they decide to each sacrifice something important to them to cement their friendship. As they do this they make a pact: never return to the box at night; they'll never visit it alone; and they'll never take back their offerings. Break any of these rules and who knows what could happen...

    A few years later in 1982

    Visit all my reviews

    . I love to chat books! Pop by, leave your review links!

    When a bunch of kids, September "Sep" Hope, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley discover an ancient stone box, they decide to each sacrifice something important to them to cement their friendship. As they do this they make a pact: never return to the box at night; they'll never visit it alone; and they'll never take back their offerings. Break any of these rules and who knows what could happen...

    A few years later in 1982, they are thrown together again as things started to go awry and it's clear someone has opened the box, because terrible things start happening. They try to rectify what they've done but nothing, it seems, will work, and like Pandora's box - once it's opened all the horror they can think of are released into their lives. And the box wants revenge.

    From the very first scenes I was totally hooked. Why were these kids sacrificing objects they loved for this box? What will happen if they disobey the rules? Because you just know someone is going to, right? I was surprised this creepy horror was aimed at young adults, as there are some great, yet gross and even some pretty cruel stories within this book! It's not for the fainthearted ya readers. That's for sure.

    An entertaining trip back in time, reminiscent of those old 80s films revolving around a bunch of kids having to deal with much more than they bargained for, with dire consequences to contend with if they don't make a stand. Yes, it does sound rather like Stand by Me, with supernatural elements and for good reason too. I enjoyed it a lot and thought it had a very English, village feel to it. I don't know whether that was just me, or not, but its the impression I got as I read this.

    Overall The Sacrifice Box had a crazy, pacy edge to it, alongside some heartfelt moments with characters which ended up feeling like my friends. An engaging coming of age book about friendship, love and hidden terrifying truths just waiting to resurface.

    Thanks to NetGalley for my copy. This is my honest opinion of The Sacrifice Box.

  • Ellen Gail

    Lots of great 80s vibes and some creepy stuff, but lacking in the secondary characters.

    Full review to come.

  • Sara

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    One summer 70's evening, five boys discover a box in the woods. To cement their friendship, the friends decide to make sacrifices to the box by giving up something meaningful to place inside, with the threat that if one of them opens the box, terrible things will happen.

    1982, and the friends have drifted apart. Until terrible, wicked things start to happen. Someone has broken the pact and opened the box.

    On reading the blurb for this

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    One summer 70's evening, five boys discover a box in the woods. To cement their friendship, the friends decide to make sacrifices to the box by giving up something meaningful to place inside, with the threat that if one of them opens the box, terrible things will happen.

    1982, and the friends have drifted apart. Until terrible, wicked things start to happen. Someone has broken the pact and opened the box.

    On reading the blurb for this, I immediately drew comparisons with IT, The Goonies and Stand By Me which unfortunately does not help the novel. There's nothing new here, except a large portion of animal cruelty. I believe the novel is aimed at young adults and children - yet I found some of these violent scenes quite graphic in nature, and uncomfortable to read about. They didn't seem to fit with the target audience at all.

    The characters, when comparing to these classic 80's films and novels, are also rather underdeveloped. We never spent enough time with one character (with the possible exception of Sep) to really understand their nature and get to know them. It's also hard to understand how any of these children were even friends. There's no emotional connection between them at all except for their link to the box. This is proven by the fact that they've drifted apart by the time 1982 comes around.

    The plot also suffers, as the author tries to pull the reader in several directions at once, not allowing you to concentrate on one plot development at a time. This makes the story convoluted and confusing at times as I was constantly trying to remember what everyone was doing at any given time. There was too much going on at once.

    Disappointing.

  • Liz Barnsley

    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

    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.

  • Stacee

    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 t

    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**

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