REVIEW: The Sacrifice Box, Martin Stewart

Thursday, 18 January 2018

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

Is it too early to add this as a contender for one of my most disappointing reads of 2018? Because, its barely a month into the year but I don’t think any other book is going to be able to top this. I do not think my expectations have ever been higher for a book - I watched a Youtube video from Heart Full of Books (who I believe got a proof from YALC) and then I read all of the PR that compared it to Stranger Things and Stand By Me, which are two of my favourite television series and movies of all time, and I was like, “OMG I CANT WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON THIS”.
Unfortunately, the main thing I got out of reading The Sacrifice Box was a renewed appreciation for just how good things like Stranger Things and Stand By Me are, to have achieved that iconic cult status that labels them as genre-staples. These two, alongside others like IT and The Goonies, are certainly not things that come around very often, and The Sacrifice Box felt like a mere shadow in comparison to them. The character nuances, the world-building (I’m becoming more and more certain the only reason it is set in the 1980’s is so that the author could put in an excessive amount of references to September’s walkman), the unadulterated emotion; these are all things in which these excelled and The Sacrifice Box fell painfully short.
Honestly, the only thing I can think of right now is the fact that the media used to refer to actress Jayne Mansfield as the “poor man’s Marilyn Monroe” and I think that a similar sentiment really rings true here. I know, I know, that sounds harsh but let’s face it, September and the gang are never going to reach the iconic status of the Losers’ Club, or Eleven, or Chris Chambers, or Sloth from the Goonies - they’re just not memorable or relatable enough for the audience to feel any degree of empathy towards.
Speaking of the Losers’ Club, I find it incredibly odd that all of the advertising focussed heavily on the supposed similarities between The Sacrifice Box, and Strangers Things and Stand By Me when clearly, it is tried far more to resemble the kids from IT. Honestly, it brings absolutely nothing new and I supposed it could've been salvaged if it had brought a more terrifying analysis of childhood fears and a better conclusion to the forefront, but it didn’t even manage that. Whereas the things that The Losers’ Club were scared of were actually pretty terrifying (remember Eddie's fear of disease?), in The Sacrifice Box, these sixteen(?)-year-olds are chased down by a murderous teddy bear…. I mean, I know at the age of twenty-two I am a little outside of the YA target age range, but I can’t imagine anyone over the age of nine being scared of a killer toy.
So, yeah…. Sorry The Sacrifice Box but I do not think I am going to be replacing my love for your predecessors any time soon.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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