Title: The Sanctity of Sloth (Seven Deadly Sins)
Author: Greta Boris
Medieval anchorites hold a special fascination for Abby Travers. These pious women chose to entomb themselves in small cells built into cathedrals. In order to understand anchorites better--and write a best-selling book on the topic--Abby convinces her father to build her an anchorhold in Mission San Juan Capistrano (a famous historical landmark in California), where she will secretly hide for 40 days. This plan is ruined when Abby witnesses two men dumping a young girl right in front of her. When the girl dies, Abby is the only witness to the crime. But coming forward will mean sacrificing her book and exposing her family to ridicule. When Abby decides on a compromise, she sets in motion a series of events which will put everything she loves in danger.
I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this book; I think it was a recommendation. Regardless, the sample intrigued me. I had never heard of anchorites, but I found the topic fascinating. From the first chapter, Abby finds herself in a moral dilemma, and I was interested to know how it would resolve. So I bought the book and read it during my long road trip to California.
The Sanctity of Sloth delivered on what I wanted from this book. I learned a little about anchorites, and I watched Abby grow and change as she confronted the bizarre circumstance she found herself placed in. The story held my attention, and the prose was serviceable, if not super descriptive.
But The Sanctity of Sloth is not just Abby’s story. It is also the story of “the wife,” a woman who also has a connection with the dead girl. Both Abby and the wife’s journeys begin when this poor unnamed girl to disrupts their lives, forcing them to deal with a moral dilemma they never expected to find themselves in. Each woman grows and finds strength, but the wife’s story is darker than Abby’s, and for this reason, I personally enjoyed it more. To me, the two women were at the heart of The Sanctity of Sloth, and watching their parallel journeys unfold and their two worlds collide was fun.
I was less taken with the story of Carlos, Abby’s boyfriend. He juggles a few subplots, which involve his relationship with Abby, running a gardening business, and dealing with his cousin’s drama. None of these subplots were terrible, but I didn't find them all that compelling either. Overall, they slowed the pace of the story, which was a bit of a problem, since this book functions as a mystery-thriller.
The Sanctity of Sloth is not a book that asks you to solve the case, although there is one major fact that remains hidden. Instead, the book focuses on the psychology of the characters and the increasingly desperate, life-threatening stakes they find themselves in. While I personally prefer Agatha Christie type puzzles, this made for a nice change and it came together for an effective ending. On the whole, The Sanctity of Sloth was a solid and enjoyable read.
Writer. Critic. Dreamer.