Book Review: Sanctuary

Book Cover from Amazon

Sanctuary (Shifter Chronicles #1) by Melle Amade


Shae is sure the icy rage that claws at her is driving away her friends and pulling her closer to the wrong boy. After all, it’s Aiden she has always secretly wanted, not Callum, who has barely spoken to her in the last year.

But, as her protected life unravels, she discovers the violent supernatural world that lurks in her quiet hometown and the ancient feuds that threaten to destroy both her friends and her family. 

To save those she loves, Shae must succumb to her own fury and take on the Ravensgaard, the renegade warriors of the Order, but as the battle approaches her deepest fears are coming true, she’s becoming just like them. Shae’s not sure she can afford the price she’ll have to pay—her own humanity.



“That Moment When” was an anthology of sample chapters, available for free to encourage people to try new authors, and included the first three chapters of Sanctuary. I was intrigued enough to look at the Amazon sample which went all the way to a portion of chapter 5. And the next thing I knew I had bought the book at around midnight and completed it at 5:30 am. Good thing we just had a wicked snowfall and no work was happening.

An excellent Young Adult (YA) Urban Fantasy (UF) shifter story, with layers of worldbuilding and unique characters leading to a unique story even with the comfortable tropes of YAUF like two love interests for the main female character (MC), who are also loyal to each other as well as interested in the same girl.

If the story wasn’t a shifter story, the heart of it would be about dealing with genetic mental illness. The MC’s mom has rage issue and Shae and the rest of her family (dad and little brother) have spent their lives tip-toeing around the mother – dealing with things thrown at them and mild physical abuse. The mother does try to control her issues and isolates herself from those she loves most. Now Shae (the MC) is starting to have the same problems, destroying her room in her rages. She doesn’t want to be like her mother.

Another part of what made this book amazing is actually obeying the typical Urban Fantasy trope of information about the magical world (in this case shifters) is not shared with those outside the community on pain of death. In most urban fantasies, YA and adult, the new person is told everything flat out within a couple of chapters – a great way for an author to explain the Urban Fantasy world and rules. Some stories I just shake my head level of sharing of information between the teenagers wondering how the world-at-large could possible still be out of the loop. 

In Sanctuary, Shae’s group of friends are all shifters and despite being close friends with her for their teenage years, they have told her nothing. The secret is only revealed during a life and death situation and then her friends try to convince her what she saw isn’t real. They very reluctantly and slowly reveal their world to her, knowing each reveal makes her and their deaths at the hands of the shifter authorities that more likely. In this story I truly believe the secret of shifters is secret. I gave the book an extra star based on this alone, since it is so rare in the genre.

The final worldbuilding bonus beyond no vampires or werewolf shifters (which is explained and really cool and unique – the bat and wolf shifters were part of the good guys – and I love the back story for the (typical trope) shifter war), is the biggest bad shifter no one wants to deal with is a  frog. A FROG! A fight is going down – feather and fur flying. The hundreds-of-year-old wizard shifter, the shifter teenagers have come to, has wiped the floor with them and is about to kill their human friend when the Frog, in human form, just calmly steps between the claw-and-teeth dervish and the human. The dervish immediately stops. That is just bad-a@@. You will have to read to find out why a frog is so dangerous no one will dare touch him in combat. .. And Ms. Amade, I want to to see the frog end up with a love interest or maybe a story centered around him and not just because of “diversity”; the character is a total sweetheart.

I also loved the fact the characters were typical teenagers. They made good choices, they made bad choices. They made choices based off of emotion, what they were taught, and intellect. They obeyed the rules as much as they broke them. They loved their families and hated them. None of them knew where the others stood all the time, because even they didn’t know. They gossiped, lied, exaggerated, told the truth, and were amazingly loyal while also ruled by hormones. Throughout the story, a reader loves the characters and sometimes dislikes them. All the teenagers are strong, unique people.

In conclusion, amazing characters, a cool backstory about the shifter war, and the comfortable tropes and tropes turned on end, make Sanctuary a must-read if you love YA Urban Fantasy of the shifter variety.