Sanctus is the debut novel by Simon Toyne and is the first of a trilogy, subsequent books being 'The Key' and 'The Tower'.
This book falls firmly in the category of religious conspiracies, the like of which has become hugely popular as a result of the popularity of Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code' etc... I will happily admit to having enjoyed some of Brown's novels, however they were followed by an abundance of religious thrillers in the same cookie-cut format which have put me off reading books in this genre. I only read Sanctus as is was a present from my husband and, even then, it was sat on the coffee table for a number of weeks before I got around to reading it. The premise and style of Toyne's writing is indeed reminiscent of that of Dan Brown, although I found the writing to be better and more engaging.
The story is based upon a three thousand year-old conspiracy of 'The Sacrament' held at the Citadel in the fictional city of Ruin, Turkey, and guarded by a secretive closed order of monks known as the Sancti. In modern day, a monk throws himself off the top of the mountainside where the Citadel still exists bringing forth an ancient prophecy which sets off a chain of events leading to discovery of the Sancti's astounding secret of The Sacrament and why it has remained hidden and guarded for so many years.
The book is a blockbuster-type and you need to bear this in mind. A lot of criticism for this genre of fiction tends to be from people expecting the stories to be true-to-life and historically accurate. This book does not pretend to be such. Toyne uses originality in his ideas, creating his own version of the Christian church and incorporating a supernatural element within his story.
The writing was fast-paced and the chapters short, which helped to sustain my interest. I found the beginning to be gripping, however the story did seem to lose some of it's pace towards the middle of the book. The ending was somewhat of a surprise to me which initially left me wondering whether or not I actually liked the book. The characters lacked some depth however, for once, I did not feel that really caused any detriment to the book. The story, whilst easy-reading, did contain twists, suspense, treachery and secrets. It turned into a real page-turner for me.
I'm now starting The Key and looking forward to getting my hands on number 3 shortly.
I would give this book a solid 3/5.
Ginger Cat x