Secrets of the Sanctuary

Young Adult - Fantasy - Epic
258 Pages
Reviewed on 05/10/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Secrets of the Sanctuary by Octavia J. Riley is a wonderful read in the YA epic fantasy category, a well-plotted and expertly narrated story. It is the second book in the Coven Chronicles. Thea Bauer is a spell weaver who has established herself as a skilled member of the Coven and someone that everyone can count on. She faces any obstacle and challenge head-on, but when she is tasked to find out why magical creatures are flooding the local sanctuary, she meets with the unexpected — a powerful sorceress who will do anything to stop her. Seeking the help of her old acquaintance Summoner Rafe MacBain, she hopes to beat the odds, but things become more complicated as feral demons from the deepest corners of hell join in the fight. While facing deadly enemies, Thea must deal with a painful past or drown in it. Can Thea and Rafe navigate a world filled with dark magic and win in a conflict that involves a demonic prince?

I enjoyed this magical story and I loved the way the author writes about the relationship between Thea and Rafe MacBain. Thea has a crush on Rafe and she suffers in silence. The world-building is impeccable and Octavia J. Riley infuses it with elements that depict chaos in a magical environment. This is not a story about ordinary magicians or witches and wizards, but one that explores the very source of dark magic, brimming with conflict and rules that are peculiar to that world. The imagery is strong and vivid and the author crafts scenes that are haunting, compelling, and focused. Secrets of the Sanctuary is a wonderful read for fans of the supernatural and fantasy; it features characters that are sophisticated and multilayered. While Thea is a strong character, she is deeply flawed and this augments the sympathy that readers develop for her, rooting for her, and hoping she gets over her personal problems. Octavia J. Riley has written a spellbinder in Secrets of the Sanctuary.

Liz Konkel

Secrets of the Sanctuary by Octavia J. Riley is part of a series. Thea has achieved her goal of joining the Coven, and thanks to being a Spellweaver, she gets tasks that are more dangerous. She makes the journey to interview refugees at a sanctuary and discovers magic-based creatures have invaded. A powerful sorceress is at the helm of the sanctuary and she isn't a fan of the Coven. It's up to Thea to solve the problem which only gets worse when she faces off against hellhounds and soul eaters. She has her demonic partner at her side and turns to Rafe MacBain for help. She refuses to let her feelings for him be known to anyone, especially him, and like her, he has his own demonic partner at his side. As she faces demons and magical creatures, she must confront her own past and uncover secrets deep within the sanctuary.

Octavia J. Riley has created a story that immediately sweeps you into it from the first page and delivers a world of supernatural beings, demons, magic, and secrets. The writing consists of fine details that pull you into the setting and a world that introduces a system of magic-based beings. These magic-based characters are naturally interwoven within the world with beings such as kelpies, witches, lamia, will-o-wisps, owlcats, and pixies. Riley puts a unique spin on familiar creatures such as the kelpie and lamia by turning them from deadly creatures into tethered protectors. These partners are tethered to them which forms a bond with the Coven member as their closest companion and protector. Even the dialogue is intricately fitted to the setting. The language is precise with Riley taking great care in bringing this world to life. The story has action and suspense with a plot that is as layered as the world itself. Thea's journey involves her status within the Coven, her role as a Spellweaver, and her mission to save the sanctuary, but she also must face the painful memories of her past while taking on soul eaters and hellhounds. Secrets of the Sanctuary has moments of action and suspense with dangerous demons, magic, demonic partners, romance, and self-discovery.

Jose Cornelio

Secrets of the Sanctuary by Octavia J. Riley is an absorbing second entry in the Coven Chronicles, following Thea Bauer, an incontestable spell-weaver who is on a mission to uncover why dangerous magical creatures are showing up at the local sanctuary. While a sorceress who cares about the sanctuary stands in her way, there is more danger and she will need more than her tethered demonic partner if she hopes to survive. Even when she enlists the help of Summoner Rafe MacBain, whom she has known for years, she finds herself in dire straits as feral demons continue to surface, escaping from hell. Soon, Thea and Rafe are engulfed in a demonic scheme that features dark magic, hellhounds, and more.

While the plot is gripping and the world-building expertly written, this novel is character-driven and Thea is a protagonist that has incredible depth. She has great magical skills, but her greatest enemy is herself — her dark past that keeps up with her. The world that Octavia J. Riley creates is wonderful and imaginative and I enjoyed the way the author writes about hellish creatures, from fallen princes to demonic pets to hellhounds. The imagery is strong and there is a darkness in this story that is ironically irresistible. The reader wants to see what happens to the characters. The writing in Secrets of the Sanctuary is stellar, atmospheric, and littered with dialogues that move the narrative forward in unexpected directions. Octavia J. Riley’s tale is a spellbinder and she proves to be a master wordsmith. What will keep most readers turning the pages is the sheer unpredictability of the story and the depth of character.