2022 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · new release

New Release Book Review: The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

Title: The Retreat

Author: Sarah Pearse

Published: July 19th 2022

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 368

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 4 stars

DS Elin Warner returns in the addictive new thriller from the No.1 Sunday Times and Top Ten New York Times bestselling author of 2021’s biggest-selling debut, The Sanatorium.

Most are here to recharge and refresh.
But someone’s here for revenge . . .

The addictive new thriller from the global bestselling author of The Sanatorium.

They couldn’t wait to stay here.
An idyllic wellness retreat has opened on an island off the coast of Devon, promising rest and relaxation – but the island itself, known locally as Reaper’s Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it’s rumoured to be cursed.

But now they can’t leave.
A woman is found dead below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But DS Elin Warner soon learns that the victim wasn’t a guest – she wasn’t meant to be on the island at all.

And they would do anything to escape…
The longer Elin stays, the more secrets she uncovers. And when someone else drowns in a diving incident, Elin begins to suspect that the old stories about the island are true.

Because history seems to be repeating itself – and the guests might not make it home alive…


Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picked The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse as a featured read. Now the bestselling author of The Sanatorium returns with The Retreat. A story of revenge, secrets, historical crimes and rumour, The Retreat is another gripping modern mystery tale from dark crime novelist Sarah Pearse.

Situated on a serene island retreat, Sarah Pearse’s second novel takes the reader to an area off the coast of Devon. On first glance this relaxing locale seems like the perfect place to rest and recover, but danger lurks on this idyllic spot. Housing a tragic historical past, this dark isle has been marked as a cursed location.  When a woman’s dead body is discovered at Reaper’s Rock, it looks as though the woman succumbed to a tragic fall. However, when Detective Sergeant Elin Warner gets involved, it soon comes to light that this was not a simple accident. As Elin works through the clues and possibilities, she discovers more victims linked to this case. Will more tragedy befall this mysterious island?

February 2021 was a great month for books and one of the highlights of early 2021 in the book world for me was the release of Sarah Pearse’s debut novel. I was delighted to see a second book by Sarah Pearse appear in bookstores in July. I didn’t receive this one for review but I made a conscious effort to purchase The Retreat as soon as it was released. The Retreat was a consuming read, that fulfilled my modern murder mystery whodunnit fixation.

Once again, Sarah Pearse has situated her novel in a deeply atmospheric and vivid setting. The island locale in question is bathed in suspicion, shadows and darkness. It is also tragically beautiful as it houses a wellness retreat. Pearse does a fine job of carefully describing her location base. I felt like I was stood on the same ground as the lead character and the occupants of this shady island. Pearse is one author who is brilliant at setting the scene and immersing her readers in the surroundings of her book. Fans of The Sanatorium will appreciate Pearse’s eye for detail in the location aspects of The Retreat. It truly does magnify the intensity of the events in this novel.

It was great to reconnect with DI Elin Warner again, she was such a superb leading protagonist in Pearse’s previous novel. The Retreat allows Pearse to extend upon this engaging character further, as Elin is faced with more challenges in her personal and professional life. I liked the fact that Elin couldn’t stop herself fully committing to investigating the strange happenings on Reaper’s Rock. I had great faith in Elin’s ability to crack this trying case and uncover the truth behind this perplexing series of events. Pearse draws in plenty of conjecture and intrigue in The Retreat. A classic whodunnit and mystery mystery awaits the reader as soon as they open this one. Be prepared to be absolutely duped, I had no idea of suspects and perpetrators at all. However, it was good to just sit back and let Sarah Pearse put on a dynamite show!

A fraught and disquieting novel from beginning to end, The Retreat is a stylish follow up novel to last year’s smash hit The Sanatorium. I’m happy to recommend this one to murder mystery and crime thriller fans.

The Retreat by Sarah Pearse was published on 19th July 2022 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Retreat, Sarah Pearse, visit here.

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