by Hannah McBride
Book 1 in the Blackwater Pack Series
A survivor on the run
Barely escaping with her life, Skye Markham and her mother flee their sadistic pack and seek sanctuary within Blackwater. Against all odds, Skye tries to create a new life for herself. A life she thought only existed in dreams is now within reach.
An alpha with a pack to protect
Remy Holt has spent years guarding his pack - his family - from threats as the next alpha in line. When the Blackwater pack decides to help the Markhams, Skye becomes one of his own … In more ways than one, if his wolf has anything to say about it.
A bond unlike any other
As Skye and Remy’s lives collide, the shifter world starts to implode. Missing shifters, a dying population, and pack wars are causing their sanctuary to crumble around them. Skye thought she was finally safe … but maybe there’s no such thing.
RATED: 17+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
TRIGGER WARNING Upper YA Intense
TRIGGER WARNING: This book involves storylines that contain sexual assault, abuse, rape, and bullying, as well as violence.
Sanctum by Hannah McBride is the first book in the Blackwater Pack series, and is a first release for Hannah McBride. It centers around seventeen year old Skye Markham, who escapes her incredibly abusive wolf pack with her mother, and travels to the Blackwater Pack for sanctuary. As Skye makes a new life for herself, and discovers the joys of having friends for the first time, she develops a connection with the alpha's son Remy. When the shifter world starts to realize there are more problems then their population dying happening, the safe space Skye has started to build around herself crumbles, and she soon discovers, she may not be safe anywhere.
I wish I could remember how I came upon this series. I believe a comment in a Facebook post? Either way, I wish I could go back, and thank the person who suggested it. I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately, and trying to push myself to read some books, that while I enjoy, are just not enticing me the way I need them too. I found myself wanting a fantasy or supernatural story, and its been a while since I have read a wolf story, so I said, what the hell! I'm so happy I read this book. It's original (despite the obvious tropes), and interesting and action packed enough that I was drawn in immediately. It is a tough read sometimes, but not because of bad writing. In fact, for a first novel, Hannah McBride really shows her skills. It's the fact that Hannah shines a light on abuse in all forms, but especially sexual and mental abuse. Without getting into details that will spoil the book, from the first chapter on, Skye finds herself in situation that are hard to read. But it's not placed there just for shock value. It's an integral part of the story.
Before I got on to talking about characters, I wanted to bring up something I LOVED about this book, which stood out to me amongst other shifter books I've read. Hannah McBride does a phenomenal job describing the wolves. She describes the change, and what is feels like, and even sounds like. But the interactions between the wolves? I LOVED it! It felt truly animalistic to me, whereas in other books, the author was trying to apply human traits to animals. They played together in the way that animals play together (and they wouldn't in their human forms). I just found it refreshing, and a lot of fun, and props to Hannah for doing such a great job.
One of the other things I loved about this book, were the characters. The wolves are all ranked by their strength/dominance, and we get the unique chance to see two very different packs. One, where rank is everything, and depending where you are placed, you are either treated like a god, or treated like trash, and the other, where you are treated equally, despite being an Alpha (leader), or Omega (submissive, bottom ranks). Skye, our main character, is born from Alpha blood on her mothers side, but because her mother got pregnant with her before her arranged marriage, and wouldn't say who the father was, her mother was downgraded to omega. As a result, Skye is constantly bullied, and worse yet, is sexually assaulted daily. And no one will do a thing. Despite all the awful things that have happened to her, she is genuinely sweet and kind. She is also fiercely loyal and strong to those deserving of it. She was a female protagonist that was easy to like, and that is not always the case for me. Remy, as a male protagonist, is perfect. Strong, intelligent, and loyal, he is what you would want in an alpha. He believes in equal rights, which takes Skye time to get used to. He was also easy to like, and I felt the chemistry between them even before -------------------> the mating bond clicked in <--------------------.
Sanctum is definitely a darker read, one I would classify as upper young adult. It's troubling plot points will be definitely triggering for some, and I would not recommend this book for everyone. But if triggering storylines are not a problem for you, and you love a good supernatural shifter story, with very human themes, and a fated mates sort of storyline, you will enjoy this debut novel by Hannah McBride.
Skye and her mother escaping
Skye meeting Larkin
Skye meeting Remy
I loved them having a movie day, introducing Skye to all their favorites.
Skye practicing her change with Katy and Larkin, and when she finally is able to, them running and playing with one another
Remy and Skye dancing
Skye and Katy taking care of Larkin after Trace attacks her
The mate bond
Remy and Skye's first date, and the northern lights.
Skye telling Remy her real last name
Skye fighting off Trace after he attacks Katy
I love you's
Remy and Skye at the cabin, where she tells him her story
Rhode's jealous that he isn't getting enough bro-mance time
Rhodes admitting to Skye that he loves Larkin
Skye fighting Cassian, and then Remy coming to help
The tree lighting in Blackwater
Mom: "That night was a stupid moment of weakness from a silly girl who thought she knew love could conquer all."
Skye: "A stupid moment of weakness. So, I was just the result of your stupid moment of weakness?"
Mom: "Yes. You were the only good thing that came out of that night. The only good thing in my entire life. I would endure a million more stupid moments of weakness if it meant I got to be your mother. I might regret a lot of things where your father was concerned, but you need to really hear this, Skye: I have never for a second regretted having you."
Katy: "Rhodes thinks he can worm his way into our Stranger Things girl-time day."
Rhode's jaw dropped.
Rhodes: "What the fuck? You weren't invited either."
Katy: "Girl-time, Rhodes. I have a vagina and therefore a standing invite. Do you have a vagina?"
His eyes were sparkling as he opened his mouth to reply.
Katy held up a hand quickly.
Katy: "And no, spending copious amounts of time inside one doesn't qualify."
He closed his mouth with an audible snap and looked at Remy.
Rhodes: "Can you control your sister?"
Remy: "You're on your own, buddy."
Larkin: "It's a love story, Rhodes. I guess you wouldn't understand that."
Rhodes: "Love, I get. Pick a position and we can make love happen."
Remy: "No PDAs where we eat."
Remy said, keeping his eyes on his tray. He stabbed a fork in the general direction of his sister.
Remy: "Your rule."
Katy: "I've barely seen her in three days, Rem."
Remy: "You saw her last night. Besides, you made the rule."
Katy: "When you were fourteen and realized what french kissing was. If I had to see you try to tonsil fuck another girl, I was going to stab myself."
Skye: "She looks cute, though."
Katy: "Why, Skye, are you coming to play on my side of the fence?"
Katy: "You are incredible. You're a fighter. You have so much compassion. You've survived hell. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it's you. And you're right - my brother is pretty freaking amazing. He deserves someone as strong and beautiful as you. "
She paused and glared at both Larkin and me.
Katy: "If either of you tell him I said that, I'll burn your bras on the front lawn."
Remy: "There's no rush. And I really don't want to rush a damn thing with you."
Remy: "We can do that. But we'll probably have to tell the pack before the run next weekend. If we don't, they'll definitely notice it when we shift and are near each other."
Skye: "That obvious, huh?"
Remy: "I can barely control myself in human form around you. My wolf already has us mated, married, and playing house."
I laughed loudly.
Skye: "Yeah, mine is pretty much the same."
Remy: "God, I could get addicted to you."
Remy: "Go inside before I drag you back to the cabin with me."
Skye: "And that's a bad thing?"
Remy: "Tonight it would be. But one day it won't."
Skye: "Why don't you just tell him you like him?"
Larkin: "Because I have been pining after Rhodes DeWitt for years, and I'll be damned if I have to spell it out for the idiot."
Remy: "Tell me everything. Tell me nothing. It doesn't change how much I love you."
Gabe: "I burn water."
I nodded in understanding.
Skye: "Remy banned me from the grill after I almost burned the cabin down at school."
Gabe grinned broadly at me
Gabe: "Same! Except it was a smoker, and how was I supposed to know it was a bad kind of smoke?"
Skye: "Shouldn't a smoker smoke?"
Gabe: "Thank you! Skye is in the running for new favorite kid, by the way."
Rhodes: "Why don't the girls hang here?"
He flashed wide eyes at me.
Katy snorted, thumbing to the next page.