Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

What Do ‘Sanctuary’ & Secretariat Have in Common?


“Okay, Mom. Close the pages and step away from the book,” says I, Kimber the Magnificent. You know. The one with sense. Cuz it’s like, the middle of the night. And Mom’s buried in a book. Again.

Well. You know Her Momness.

“In a minute, Kimber,” says Mom. “Just let me finish this chapter, okay?” In a voice that never means an actual, real minute. Then she gives me The Look.

Insert eye roll here.

Cuz Mom said “in a minute” two hours ago. She also said “finish the chapter.” Thirty-one chapters ago. So why is it the wee hours and we’re both still reading Sanctuary? I’ll let Mom fill you in:

Sanctuary (One Foundation Publishing, 2021)

Book Two of the Subversive Trilogy

By Raena Rood

Christian Fiction/Dystopian/Young Adult

I started this book thinking I’d graze on a coupla chapters and get back to it later. Next thing I knew, I was twelve chapters in. And the story was roaring like Secretariat around the final turn in the Belmont Stakes. Here’s the 4-1-1:

The United States has outlawed Christianity. Owning a Bible is a criminal offense. Churches are padlocked. Pastors arrested. Crosses are removed – even on headstones – because “the sight of them upsets people.”

Because “we are all in this together,” neighbors spy on neighbors. Family and friends turn on each other. Task Force soldiers respond to phone calls from “concerned citizens” and neighbors disappear. For good.

Basic Plot

Six months after her narrow escape from the Task Force, Gemma Alcott and her fellow “subversives” hide deep in the Pennsylvania wilderness. The hideout, known as the Sanctuary, is for persecuted Christians. They’re being secretly supplied by an elderly book store owner and a group of “sympathizers” in the nearby town of Winter’s Dam.  

Gemma and her main squeeze and former Task Force sergeant, Taylor Nolan, think they are safe. But the ruthless, relentless government Task Force raids the town to expose and eliminate those suspected of aiding “subversives.” Aka: Christians who take their faith seriously. Aka: “Roaches.”

A small group from the Sanctuary that includes Gemma and Taylor decides to fight. They launch a daring rescue mission into Winter’s Dam. But when the mission goes horribly wrong, everything Gemma loves is ripped away. Meanwhile, Mullen, a relentless Task Forcer whom Gemma previously escaped, stalks her nightmares – and her waking hours.

When Gemma loses everything, she slowly realizes that the cross is “the only strong and sturdy thing in her life.” Will it be enough?


With a story that could be ripped from tomorrow’s headlines, Sanctuary is one heckuva barn burner. This fast-paced, faith-based thriller takes readers on a riveting roller coaster ride through a smorgasbord of emotion. I couldn’t put it down!

Although this is the second book in the Subversives trilogy, it can also be read as a stand-alone. The author provides enough back story and context from the first title so new readers don’t get lost. Here’s our review of the first book, Subversive. (It’s number five on the “hits” list.)

Kimber Chimes In

Kimber again. Mom and I? We read, like a ton. And Sanctuary is one of the most powerful books we’ve read all year. Emotionally gripping and razor-sharp, this compelling story will resonate long after the final page is turned.

‘Fize you I’d run – like Secretariat around the final turn in the Belmont – to the nearest book retail outlet and grab a copy. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. It’s that good.

Because it’s never too late.

Our Rating: 5.0

2 thoughts on “What Do ‘Sanctuary’ & Secretariat Have in Common?

  1. Thank you, Kimber and Mom, for this lovely review! You made this cloudy Saturday morning so much brighter. I apologize for robbing you both of sleep, but I’m secretly thrilled that you couldn’t put the book down! Hugs for Mom and extra doggie biscuits for Kimber! — Raena

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