The Sacrifice Box

The Sacrifice Box

Martin Stewart,

The Sacrifice Box

Penguin, 2018

ISBN 9780141371610

14-16 Shortlist 2019


On this shortlist:

We have received 13 reviews of The Sacrifice Box. You can add a review or scroll down to read reviews.

Write a Review

To send in your review of The Sacrifice Box, please fill in the info below and click the button labelled Send Review Now. Reviews will be checked by our team before they appear on the website. Your last name will not appear on the site, but we need to know who you are in case you win a prize!

out of 5



Who Wrote It?

Martin Stewart has previously worked as a recycling technician, university lecturer, barman, golf caddy, and English teacher. Having written his first book on Post-Its as an eight year-old, it was his time back in the classroom that made him understand the unique joy of writing for younger readers. A native of Glasgow, where he still lives, he enjoys buying books to feed his to-be-read pile, and combining the city’s urban splendour with walks on the beaches of Scotland’s west coast. The Sacrifice Box is his second book.

What's It About?

Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box forever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.

Four years later, a series of strange and terrifying events take place. Someone broke the rules, and now everyone has to pay. But how much are they willing to sacrifice?

Fact File

Martin lives in Scotland with his wife and daughter and their dog.

He enjoys stories that take place in the shadows, and exploring the tension between laughter and fear. He loves the work of John Steinbeck and Philip Pullman.

He visits schools and festivals all over the UK, promoting reading for pleasure, sharing his creative process and delivering writing masterclasses.

He likes meeting interesting writers with whom he can record episodes of his podcast, Four Books.

For more information visit Martin’s website: or follow him on Twitter @MartinJStewart.

Your Reviews

Poppy from King James' School:

There are many adjectives I would use to describe this book but unfortunately I'm told that 'ohmygoshwhatjusthappenedwhyiswhatahhhh' is not a valid adjective. We'll go with intense then.

At times, i felt that the plot was cliche and at others it felt as if a scene would make an amazing movie but unfortunately made for a particularly confusing book. The ending felt as if I'd seen it a million times despite the action packed, chaotic plot around it.

However, please do not let my words distract from hoe spectacularly fun this book is. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (aside from the obvious, me and Mr Stewart need to have serious words about the fox(those who have read it understand)) and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an exciting, thrilling read. I went into this book with high expectations and they were most definitely met.

Poppy gave The Sacrifice Box 4 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Grace from Crawshaw:

I think the book Sacrifice Box was very intriguing because when I read this book I felt like I was actually there it dragged me into it's very pages I couldn't put it down I Loved it!

Grace gave The Sacrifice Box 4 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Martha from Benton Park:

This book’s cover is beautiful, so it really stood out for me from the rest of the category. The premise sounds interesting, and in general the idea of this book is amazing!

I really enjoyed the aspect of the different timelines,and how we kept finding out how more people on the island were affected by the box.

I found the writing very atmospheric,and the descriptions fit with the eerie mood, however I had a couple of issues with the book which prevented me giving it 5 stars.

I thought some parts (such as toys and dolls being alive)were a bit generic for this kind of genre so it wasn’t that original in that way. Also, I wasn’t particularly scared at any point in the book- so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I might’ve. However, this genre is not something I would usually reach for so I wouldn’t take that as an indication not to give it a go.

Overall I would rate this 3.5 stars!

Martha gave The Sacrifice Box 3 out of 5 and now plans to read The Survival Game by Nicky Singer.

Thomas from King James's School, Knaresborough:

Thrilling, well described, creepy, addictive and humorous.

Sep is a teenage student who wishes to go to the mainland and leave his small island home. He is incredibly intellectual and stands out in his class. When he was younger he went with his friends to the sacrifice box and there are a set of rules they have to follow : never come to the box in the night, never come to the box alone and never take back your sacrifice, and when someone breaks the rules horrible things start to happen. Sep and his friends have to fix what someone caused and stop the sacrifice box from doing more damage.

My favourite character in this book was Arkle because he was very entertaining and funny. This book was very unpredictable and definitely kept you guessing. This book is extremely descriptive and I could picture every scene in my head like a picture, I really like this because that is what most books lack.

There is honestly nothing I could say that is wrong with this book, it was perfect!

I found this book very addictive and I would recommend this book to teenagers and above, if you do read it you won’t regret it.

Thomas gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Marnie from Cardinal Heenan:

Absolutely stunning. I loved every page and was up half the night, encaptured in its dark pages.

Marnie gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read Payback by M A Griffin.

Max from King James's School, Knaresborough:

Engaging, surreal, creepy, suspenseful and eerie.

I loved this book and found it to be a delightful mix of horror and humour. It is quoted to be: “Gremlins meets The Breakfast Club by way of Stephen King and Stranger Things.” This is a perfect way of describing the story and I would thoroughly agree with it.

The protagonist Sep (short for September) is a complicated youth whose life centres around his perpetual desire to leave Hill Ford, the island he has always been trapped on. Because of this, Sep is very determined and incredibly driven to get a scholarship to the mainland. A goal he does eventually achieve.

Martin Stewart paints a classic 80s scene where a group of friends jokingly agree to seal their friendship by taking part in a seemingly simple, but ultimately sinister sacrifice ritual. However, when four years later the rules are broken, the group is forced together they truly begin to understand the terrible mistake they have made.

We then follow the group as they try to reverse their colossal error and along the way we meet many lovable and care-worthy characters that are easy to empathise with. Finally, the story culminates in a monstrous battle between Sep and his own psychological demons.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to those who love gripping books that also have a comedic edge.

Max gave The Sacrifice Box 4 out of 5 and now plans to read White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock.

Jem from King James's School, Knaresborough:

The Sacrifice box is a book by Martin Stewart that follows the story of five teenagers that discover a strange box in the forest as children. They each make a sacrifice that means something to them to strengthen their friendship but four years later, after they have gone their separate ways, it returns to them, to enact revenge for breaking its rules.

I think this book is excellent. It has extremely well developed and unique characters that you get to know throughout the book and judge from your own perspective as well as from the point of view of the main character, Sep. It is structured well and handles switching between different time periods perfectly and without confusion for the reader. It is a gripping narrative and always keeps you guessing about the outcome of the story, while keeping the plot straightforward and easy to follow along. In my opinion, the author also does a particularly good job of handling tension and can make your heart race and keep turning the pages. You can clearly feel the main characters emotions as they progress forward as a person and encounter different situations.

The only real thing I can think of doing to the book to improve it would be to fully explore the characters of Lamb and Mack. However, I think there was no good place to do that and it would feel disjointed if this was forced into the story.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a gripping read.

Jem gave The Sacrifice Box 4 out of 5 and now plans to read White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock.

Tara from Guiseley School:

I thought this book was a very descriptive, which I enjoyed, but others might not like. I would have appreciated a more thorough ending as it felt quick and rushed. Overall, the book has a great story line and interesting ideas, but I feel like the heavy description could have been exchanged for explanation.

Tara gave The Sacrifice Box 4 out of 5 and now plans to read White Rabbit, Red Wolf by Tom Pollock.

Elisha from Cardinal Heenan:

When I read the blurb of this book, I knew straight away that I would like it. This book is about a group of friends who each put something special into a misterious box that they found in the woods. A couple of years later strange things begin to happen as someone broke the box’s rules. There is definitely a LOT of action going on with quite a few deaths and quite a lot of blood. Out of the books I have read in this shortlist(The Lost Witch, Rosie Loves Jack, The Survival Game and The Sacrifice Box), this book is definitely the most exciting and my favourite one of them all!

Elisha gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read Payback by M A Griffin.

Mrs Blashill from Southfield Grange Trust:

This story takes place over two time frames, 1982 and 1941. In each case a group of friends make a sacrifice into a box they have found they have to deal with the consequences. The story mainly concentrates on the1982 group who are trying to find a way to put everything right.

The images in this book are very vivid, they actually gave me nightmares and although at first I found the characters slightly confusing I soon became engrossed in the story. I also struggled to decide where the island was, I found the location to be ambiguous.

When the book changes timeframes the typeface changes giving the book a quirky look which I liked.

Mrs Blashill gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Diana from Grange Technology College:

The Sacrifice Box is a story about a group of 5 friends, Arkle, Sep, Hadley, Lamb and Mack who made a sacrifice to a box they’d found in a forest, after the box had put the rules in Sep’s head. Little did they know, the box wasn’t as innocent as they’d thought. And it’s set in a seaside town called Hill Ford.

I found The Sacrifice Box to be a very intriguing story. It was so fantastical and immersive, I just couldn’t put it down! I loved every character in the novel. Each one of them made me feel like I knew them, almost as if I was in the story itself. The side characters in the novel really stood out to me, too. I could not stop thinking about Mario’s past, who he is as a character and why he is the way he is in the novel. How did he end up becoming a vet/fish and chip shop owner? How did he and Sep meet in the first place?

The entire novel keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes you scream along with the sudden spurts of action, agony, fear, anger, and surprise. Whilst I was reading, I thought that the story would calm for a second, but another moment of action would shoot out and have me biting my fingernails. It becomes really intense towards the end of the novel, too. More and more of those moments seemed to pop up, but that’s just one of the things I loved about the story.

A definite 5/5. I loved it.

Diana gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read Rosie Loves Jack by Mel Darbon.

Rafea from Southfield Grange Campus:

The characters discover a mysterious box but then make a mistake then try to correct it.

The story is a diary format and written in the 3rd person.

I enjoyed the book, especially chapter 49 where the group, Sep, Mack, Hadley, Arkle and Lamb start to work together. My favourite character was Hadley because even though she felt weak she kept going.

I had to guess the ending of the story, the book made me cry because they all work as a team.

The book was suitable for my age range because it contained adventure.

Rafea gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.

Rafeha from Grange Technology College:

I liked the book.

I would recommend this to a friend as it is intriguing and full of adventure.

Rafeha gave The Sacrifice Box 5 out of 5 and now plans to read The Lost Witch by Melvin Burgess.