Sanctuary Bay: A Novel

Sanctuary Bay: A Novel

by Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz

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When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466869172
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/19/2016
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?
Laura J. Burns has written more than forty books for kids and teens, touching on topics from imaginary lake monsters to out-of-control Hollywood starlets (they have more in common than you might think). With Melinda Metz, she has also written for the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York with her husband, her kids, and way too many pets.
Melinda Metz is the author of over 75 books for kids and teens, including the Roswell High series, basis of the TV show Roswell. She often teams up with the lovely and talented Laura J. Burns; together they wrote the Edgar Award nominee Wright and Wong: Case of the Nana-Napper, and YA thrillers Sanctuary Bay and The Lost Map of Secrets and Chaos. Melinda's first adult book, Talk to The Paw, launched the series. She lives in North Carolina with her dog, Scully, who isn't as well-behaved as her namesake.

Read an Excerpt

Sanctuary Bay

By Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6917-2


"First time on the water," the captain said.

It wasn't a question, but Sarah nodded as she tightly gripped the rail, the chipped paint rough under her palms. The rolling motion of the ferry made her stomach churn. "First time anywhere," she mumbled. Ever since she'd left her latest foster home behind in Toledo, that's all she'd had. First plane ride, first time out of Ohio since her parents died, first Greyhound ride, first boat.

An entire day of firsts thanks to what was probably a clerical error made by Sanctuary Bay Academy. The elite prep school had handed her a scholarship, even though she hadn't applied or been recommended, even though the records from her countless schools made it sound like community college was her best hope — if she even got that lucky.

The chilly Maine wind blasted across her face, stinging her eyes and turning her kinky hair to a tangled mess. "Do you ever get used to how big it is?" she asked. "The ocean?"

The captain laughed, his red face crinkling. "Try being out in the middle, where you can't see the shore." He swung himself onto the steep staircase and headed down to the enclosed bottom deck.

Now her only company was a big white dog tied up near a stubby, rusty metal ... thing ... with a thick rope coiled around the base. Her perfect memory would tell her what it was if she'd ever come across it in a book or heard someone talk about it before, but that hadn't happened. The dog's tongue hung out of his mouth happily as they bounced roughly over the water, the ferry leaving thick trails of white spray as it plowed toward Sanctuary Bay Academy. Clearly the dog had more travel experience than her.

She turned around, facing the shore to get a break from the out-to-infinity view. But now all she saw was the rest of the world slowly getting farther away. If her social worker was right, if the scholarship was the real deal, she wouldn't see that world again for almost two years. The academy had a strict policy of isolation.

Not isolation. Total immersion. Nothing but school.

But it still meant no contact with the outside world until she graduated.

"Which doesn't matter," she told the dog. "Seeing as I have no friends or family to miss."

Her last foster family, the Yoders, they'd been okay. Sure, they were extremely white. Big and blond and rosy cheeked and just ... white. Sarah was sure when they looked at her they saw a black girl with kinky-curly dark hair and a wide nose. But it had been no different when she'd had black foster families. It wasn't as if they saw a white girl when they took in her green eyes and latte-hued skin. But they didn't see themselves, either. They didn't see black. If she'd been one thing or the other, instead of both, would she have found a place — a family — that she really fit with?

She'd never fit at the Yoders. Besides the whiteness, they were just too normal. Three-square-meals-a-day-bowl-a-few-frames-this-Saturday normal. Creepy normal. But she'd liked it there. No one tried to slide into bed with her. There'd been no hitting or screaming — Mr. and Mrs. Yoder actually seemed to like each other. Decent food. Some new clothes. From Target and Walmart, but new, and hers. Mrs. Yoder had even cried when she hugged Sarah good-bye this morning.

"Maybe she'll miss me," Sarah said quietly. She faced the ocean again, and the dog gave her a wag.

"I'm not petting you," she told it. She didn't have much experience with dogs. It was one of her gaps, or at least that's how she thought of them. She'd lived in so many different homes, with so many different people. She should have experienced more than the average sixteen-year-old, but she had a bunch of gaps. Friends — you couldn't make real friends when you switched schools that often. The ocean — the Maumee River in Toledo didn't come close. Dogs — none, except the one the Weltons kept chained to the front door, and that one wasn't exactly a tail wagger. Parties — she'd never even been invited to one.

Never had a pony or a Lexus with a bow on top for my sweet sixteen, either, she thought, mocking herself. "I just wish this part was over, the not knowing," she said aloud to the dog. She could deal with anything as long as she knew what was going on. It was the not knowing that had her stomach roiling, no matter how many times she tried to tell herself it was only seasickness.

The dog stood up, so it could wag its whole butt and not just its tail. It moved closer, until its leash pulled taut, choking it. "Stupid mutt," she muttered, but it kept on wagging. Okay, fine. Today was New Thing Day, so what the hell. Sarah slowly stretched her fingers out just far enough to brush its head. A second later, her hand was thoroughly slimed.

She smiled, wiping the drool on her jeans. "Thanks for not eating my hand," she told the dog. "I'm weird enough already. I don't need to be known as Stumpy the Scholarship Girl."

Would that be a thing? Would there be a big divide between scholarship kids and everybody else? At her public schools the rich kids had always stayed away from people like her — well, at least at the schools she'd gone to that even had rich kids. But Sanctuary Bay was way beyond that. Her social worker had said students got their pick of colleges after graduation, that the best families in the country sent their kids here. That meant not just rich kids, but outrageously rich kids. Kennedys and Romneys and people like that. Sarah had tried to find information about the school online, a picture or something.

But she hadn't found anything. Maybe since Sanctuary Bay had such an amazing reputation they didn't need to be online. No need to advertise. If they wanted you, they'd let you know.

And they wanted her.

Or they wanted Sarah Merson at least. There had to be another one out there somewhere. A Sarah Merson with fantastic grades and a normal brain and parents who were still alive to help her get into a school like this. A girl who'd never been accused of being on drugs or cheating. A girl no one had ever considered might be "emotionally unstable," to quote Sarah's seventh-grade teacher. That was the girl who was supposed to be on this ferry.

"Maybe they'll never figure out they screwed up. Sucks for the other Sarah, but I probably need it more than her, right?" she asked the dog.

The boat veered to the left, bringing what looked like a row of the world's biggest floor fans into view. They had three blades each and were mounted on enormously tall yellow pillars — she guessed they were about four hundred feet tall — and each pillar was attached to a floating platform.

As they continued steadily toward the platforms, Sarah realized that two people were standing on one of them, inside a small white metal railing wrapped around the bottom of the platform's pillar. One of them pointed at her, and then they both started to wave. Sarah turned around to make sure no one had joined her on the upper deck. Empty.

"You know these people?" The dog whined in response. They were probably just waving to wave.

The boat kept speeding toward the platform. It must be farther away than it looks, Sarah thought. Because it looked like they were going to run right into it if they kept going for much longer. She heard footsteps clambering up the metal stairs. "You, let's go," the captain called to her.

Sarah grabbed her suitcase and her backpack. "Wish me luck," she murmured to the dog before she started toward the stairs. The dog wagged, as if to say it was all good. But it wagged at everything. How could this be my stop? she wondered. She'd never been on a ferry though. Maybe he was just getting her ready for a stop that was coming up in twenty minutes.

"Anything fragile in your gear?" the captain asked.

"Uh, no. Mostly just clothes," Sarah told him. Foster kids traveled light. The boat veered, pulling up alongside the platform. Now she could see the two people standing by the pillar were around her age, a boy and girl. They were still waving.

"Hi, Sarah! We're your welcoming committee," the boy — on the short side, muscular, cute, close-cropped dark brown hair, Hispanic — called to her.

"So, welcome!" the girl — preppy-pretty, straight red hair, white — added.

She sighed. Sarah always got frustrated when people tried to put her in a black or white box, like it had to be an either/or thing. But more frustratingly, she found herself automatically doing it too. She saw someone and checked off boxes. Size. Age. Race. Attractiveness. Economic status. But race was always there because it was the one box that she never knew quite what to check for herself.

The captain took her suitcase and heaved it over the rail. It landed on the floating platform with a thump. Sarah blinked in surprise. "Nothing breakable, you said."

Sarah managed to nod. She was starting to get blender-brain. It was only yesterday that her social worker had told her about Sanctuary Bay, while Mrs. Yoder buzzed around excitedly. And since then it had been pow, pow, pow — new stuff thrown at her every second. Now she was getting dropped off in the middle of the ocean onto a platform the size of a basketball court.

Oh, but wait. There was a boat tethered nearby on the other side. She'd been so focused on the people and the high fan — a wind turbine, her brain had finally provided when she'd realized she had arrived at a floating wind farm — that she hadn't noticed it. It looked more like a spacecraft than a boat, a spacecraft for James Bond. Low to the water with sleek metal lines, stretching out in two long points in front of a glassed-in ... she wanted to call it a cockpit, but she was sure there was a better word. One word that definitely applied to the whole thing was magnificent. Just magnificent.

"You want to wear the backpack down, or should I toss it too?" the captain asked after a long pause. Sarah looked over at him and saw that his eyes were wide, locked on the boat beside the platform. So she wasn't the only one who thought it looked like something that wouldn't be invented for decades. The guy who made his living on the ocean did too.

"Toss it," Sarah told him after realizing she was going to have to awkwardly climb down a metal ladder running down the side of the ferry.

"Sarah Merson, come on down," the boy cried in a cheesy TV-show announcer voice, like she was a contestant on The Price Is Right. He gave her a cocky grin. He knew exactly how cheesy he was being and that he was hot enough to pull it off. More than hot enough.

Did rich people even watch The Price Is Right? The boy waiting for her at the bottom of the ladder definitely seemed like a rich boy, knowledge of PIR withstanding. Except it looked like his nose had been broken at least once, and it hadn't been returned to perfection with plastic surgery. The girl looked rich too. They both just had a well-groomed glow that she'd never seen outside of Us Weekly. Not that Sarah was smelly with chipped nail polish or anything. But there was a difference.

Don't stand here staring, she told herself. You've done this all before. Not the boat part, but she'd been the new girl too many times to count. And she still hated it. Don'tfalldon'tfalldon'tfall, she thought as she stepped onto the ladder, her sweaty palms sliding across the metal railing. She narrowed her focus to the steps until she reached the gently bobbing platform.

"Nate Cruz," the boy said, holding out his hand. She shook it, praying her palms were no longer sweaty. "Junior class president," he added. His eyes were a golden brown, like caramels, his skin just a few shades darker, and the way he looked at her made her feel like she was the only person not just on the platform, but in the entire world. She was relieved when the girl stepped up beside them. Nate's gaze was so intense she felt like she needed a reason to look away.

"I'm Maya," the girl announced. "I don't feel the need to give my title every three or four seconds." She smiled, shaking hands with Sarah too. It was kind of like they were all at a business meeting, or what Sarah imagined a business meeting would be like, anyway.

"She doesn't feel the need to announce her title because she's class secretary, and it's not worth mentioning." Nate shot Maya what Sarah was already starting to think of as The Grin, then wrapped his arm around her shoulders. Maya tried to pull away, but he gave her smacking kisses on the cheek as he pulled her tighter against him.

So that's how it is, Sarah thought. Good to know. She liked to figure out as much as she could about the people in a new place as soon as possible. It made her feel more in control. Nate and Maya a couple. Noted.

Have I said anything? She felt a spurt of embarrassment. Had she just been standing there gawping at the pretty, shiny boat and the pretty, shiny rich kids? Say something. Anything. Anythinganything. "I thought the ferry would take me all the way to the school," she mumbled.

"Nope, the school's boat brings students the rest of the way. No need for a regular ferry to Sanctuary Bay," Maya answered. "Once you arrive, you're there 'til grad."

"But don't worry about not being able to leave," Nate told Sarah. "We make our own entertainment."

"We do." Maya gave her words a spin, making it clear she was talking about epic sex. "The only thing I really miss is shopping," she added. "We can get packages every three months, but that just means we get what people think we want. My mom tries, but she's basically hopeless, or else she thinks I'm still in fifth grade. Some of the stuff I get? I'm like —'Seriously, Mom?' Doesn't matter though. There are always people who want to trade."

Sarah remained quiet. She didn't think her first thought, That's what we call a first-world problem, bitch, was quite the right way to go about making friends. Instead she turned to Nate. "And you?" Sarah asked. "Does Mommy still think you're a little boy?" The words came out with an edge she hadn't intended.

"I'm past the age of needing a mommy," Nate answered, his own tone a little sharp. "Let's get to Sanctuary Bay so you can see the place for yourself," he quickly added, the warmth back in his voice. He gave a light rap on the smoked-glass roof of the cockpit. A second later the back slid up, smoothly and soundlessly, revealing six matte-black leather chairs, ones that could easily sit at some swanky bar without looking out of place.

Sarah drew in a shaky breath. She had to stop with the poor-kid attitude. Everyone here was rich — she couldn't be mad at them all, not if she wanted them to accept her. Luckily, if her question had pissed Nate off, he'd only let it show for a second. She got why he was class president. There was something of a politician in him, a calculation under his friendly manner. Again she was being too harsh. It was probably just sharp intelligence.

"Can't wait," Sarah smiled, putting her polite voice back on. "I'm almost insane with curiosity. Do you know there's not one picture of the school online?"

Nate stepped into the cockpit, and stretched out his hand to help her onboard.

"The school has it set up so we can access the Web for research, but that's it. Nothing from us can go out. No e-mail. No way to get on Instagram or Snip-It, so there's no way to post pictures," Nate explained. "We have our own private network though, so we can send stuff to each other, and we have cells that work on-island." He grabbed Maya by the waist and swung her down beside him.

"The Academy wants us focused on school," Maya said as they each strapped into one of the chairs behind the pilot who sat at the control panel. "That's why they have the rule about us staying on campus."

"Total immersion," Sarah said softly, remembering.

"Exactly," Nate replied. "And it works. Sanctuary Bay students get the highest SAT scores in the country."

"And I'm sure Sarah is properly awed by that." Maya smiled at her. "But I'm also sure there are other things she'd like to know about the place."

"Only everything!" Sarah tried to sound eager and perky like Maya.

"Okay, for starters, there are a hundred and eighty-nine students, counting you," Nate said. The hatch glided back into place and the boat began rushing across the water. "Nine hundred raging horses in this baby," he commented. "And it can also run on solar power. Slower, but still."

Maya shook her head. "He's such a boy." She didn't sound at all displeased. "The school, Mr. President. We're talking about the school." She turned to Sarah. "First thing you're going to need to decide is if you're with the Puffins or the Lobsters. Those are the two lacrosse teams. Stupid names, I know — they're Maine wildlife. Somebody thought it was clever."

"There are two teams at one school?"

"Have to be," Nate told her. "We stay on the island, so the only way we can play is if we play each other. Just think of it like the Bengals and the Browns."

Sarah's chin jerked up. There weren't that many states with two football teams. "Are you saying that because you know I'm from Ohio?" she demanded, forgetting herself.


Excerpted from Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns, Melinda Metz. Copyright © 2015 St. Martin's Press.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sanctuary Bay 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
pooled_ink More than 1 year ago
pooled ink Reviews: SANCTUARY BAY is a YA thriller that will literally have you looking over your shoulder, squinting at authority figures, and second-guessing the lengths people will go for that delightfully sweet and sneakily addicting drug called power. It will force you to turn your eyes to the horrors humans have, can, and might commit. This book will leave you crippled from what you’ve just read and from what lies unknown up ahead. Well written, exceedingly intriguing, and oozing with thrills and psychotic horror Sanctuary Bay will leave you limp in your chair, eyes slightly unfocused, and in need of a dose of Bromcyan to put your mind back in order. But my advice? Don’t take it. Read my FULL review here:
lrhubble More than 1 year ago
Keeps you guessing Contemporary YA thriller Sarah Merson has received an opportunity of a lifetime and it seems too good to be true. A chance to attend the most elite prep school in the country, Sanctuary Bay Academy. Nothing could sound more appealing than a chance to escape to its tranquil setting on Swans Island especially after bouncing around from foster home to foster home. Now she has been thrown into a world of privilege and secrets. Sarah quickly comes to the attention of Nate who is the class charmer and also her roommate’s boyfriend, Ethan who is dangerously attentive. These things also prove to be the least of her worries. Sarah finds herself in a race against time when her roommate suddenly goes missing. Sarah races to find her but she also needs to save herself and discover the truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation no matter how dark that truth is. This is a story that takes off right from the beginning and doesn’t stop until the end. It is full of suspense that keeps building and proves to be entirely engrossing for readers. The characters are intriguing and move the story along at a fast pace and make for a story that is extremely hard to put down. It will also have readers wanting to check out more books from the authors and hoping for more from Sanctuary Bay. For readers that enjoy both Young Adult and Suspense this is a definite must read.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
An amazing albeit at times slightly confusing read. The story is familiar: Sarah gets invited to a prep school and an island, and she goes, but when she’s there, strange things start happening and her ne”w friends act all kinds of weird. The characters were great, although I thought Sarah acted pretty self-absorbed every now and then. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz is a young-adult suspense/thriller novel. Sarah Merson witnessed the death of her parents as a child. Sarah has been in a variety of foster homes since their death. Then she gets the opportunity of a lifetime. A full scholarship to the elite Sanctuary Bay Academy. Sarah did not apply for the scholarship (nor did anyone else she knows), but it is a great opportunity for her. The school is on an island and has a total immersion policy. Once you arrive at the school, you do not leave the school until graduation. No phone calls, no letters, no emails out. You can receive care packages from your family every three months (a little odd). Sarah is sixteen and will be entering the school as a junior. Sarah notices unusual activity going on at night and decides to explore (she will wish she had stayed in bed). Sarah becomes a part of a group that will change everything. There are some strange activities going on at this school and Sarah sets out to get answers. She knew this school was too good to be true! Sanctuary Bay starts out slowly and it is confusing. I got tired of Sarah’s attitude quickly. She is judgmental and has a big chip on her shoulder (about rich and privileged people). The book does get better though (you have to keep reading). The way it started out you would think it was going to be a paranormal novel (I think it would have been better if it had been). This book took a direction that I did not suspect (but I liked it). I give Sanctuary Bay 4 out of 5 stars. The book does have some of the normal teenage angst and romance, but I skimmed through those sections (I used by speed reading skills). I received a complimentary copy of Sanctuary Bay from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
SiobhanDavisAuthor More than 1 year ago
Actual Rating 3.5 Stars I was so looking forward to reading this book as the blurb and cover are gorgeous, and I discovered that this book was written by the author of the Roswell series (which I loved when I was younger.) Now that I've read it, I'm kinda struggling to sort my thoughts out. It was good, it was creative and imaginative, and I definitely became invested in the story, but there were things that I didn't like as well which is why my rating isn't higher. Initially, I found it very difficult to connect with this story , and I actually put it down to read another book, unsure if I would come back to it. I did, and once I got beyond the 30 percent mark, I began to enjoy it. Now, it was extremely weird and confusing at times, and I didn't like the cult aspect or the wolf-howling scenes (total cheese-fest.) The second half of this book is a total rollercoaster read - so much is crammed in there that I had to stop and take stock a few times, but it was fast-paced and thrilling and full of mystery and suspense. Awesome. Our MC, Sarah, was very weak at the start and quite insipid. By the end of the book I had warmed to her but her development wasn't really logical or explicable. Ethan Steere was my favorite character and I felt the only one who had true depth. Now, when you realize what's actually going on it explains some of the other characters strange behaviour and stiff dialogue, so I can forgive that as it works with the plot. Believable. The revelations about what was really going on in Sanctuary Bay were fantastic, if a little underdeveloped at times. I thought the world building and writing were good. The ending felt very rushed to me. It had a conclusion, and an epilogue, but to me there is another story in this and a few loose threads that weren't developed. If a second book is released I would read it to see what happens next for Sarah and Ethan. I'd like to thank St. Martins Press and Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Theresa_Raymer More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to get to be chosen by Netgalley and the Publisher St. Martins and received an ARC of Sanctuary Bay for an honest review on the book. I really enjoyed the book but the ending left me hanging. Please tell me there is going to be a second book? SPOILER ALERT! The book starts of as Sarah being a little girl and she see's her mom and dad getting shot. Now with both her parents dead Sarah ends up in the foster care system. Sarah is tossed from one foster home after another. She is very bright and does well in school. So all of sudden her social worker shows up and tells her that she is going to get to go to this very elite prep school in the country. Sanctuary Bay which is located on and isolated island, once you are on the island you are there until you graduate high school. Sarah has discovered the school is not what you would think it is. When her roommate goes missing, she finds herself looking for her, but what she really finds is the dark and mysterious truth that lies behind Sanctuary Bay's reputation.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was definitely what I expected. I expected Sarah to be the suspect in her roommate's death. I wasn't even close. Apparently this was the beginning of yet another trilogy. However, this one did keep my interest and I did not see what was coming. I can't really say a lot about it without giving out any spoilers. I will say that that my heart is still racing after reading it and I even took a cigarette break. Definitely read the ending before bedtime. There is a line in there that will definitely be a jaw dropper for you. At least it was for me. The writing was done well and the story made sense and was believable. There was great character development and you really thought it was a normal school. It was weird though that no one was allowed to leave and there was no contact with the outside world. That part was kind of weird. Yet, they got care packages from their families and most of their families were wealthy. I found it to be exciting, entertaining and I definitely recommend the book. I'm not sure on the trilogy thing it just seemed with the ending that there is more to come. Which is a good thing, because I still have questions. Thanks St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.