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The Sentinel

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  5,289 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
A beautiful young model. The old brownstone apartment she simply had to have. The grotesque blind priest who watched down on her day and night from an upper-story window. The pair of perverted creatures who wanted her to join their circle. The mad little old man who gave her tea and sympathy. The cool, calculating, supremely rational lover who first mocked her fears.

And th
Mass Market Paperback, 278 pages
Published January 12th 1977 by Ballantine Books (first published 1974)
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The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
269th out of 1,428 books — 4,375 voters
Dracula by Bram StokerThe Shining by Stephen KingFrankenstein by Mary ShelleyThe Silence of the Lambs by Thomas HarrisRosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Horror films based on books
31st out of 61 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Oct 21, 2016 Dan Schwent rated it did not like it
When Allison Parker, a young model, returns to NYC after her father's funeral, she finds the perfect brownstone apartment. But what about the old blind priest who never leaves the building or her other, equally strange neighbors? What secrets is the building hiding?

Some books stand the test of time. Others remain a product of the time they were written. The Sentinel is one of the second type.

The setup for this book has a lot of potential. A woman moves into an apartment that seems to be a bargai
Jill Mcwhirter
Jul 29, 2011 Jill Mcwhirter rated it it was amazing
Hi All! So, the way I discovered, The Sentinel, was through Jeff Konvitz himself. We met, went out, enjoyed each others company. Then he told me about the book. I love a good horror read! So he gave me a copy and I read it. An easy read for a scary weekend... it was fun. Then I read The Guardian, which I enjoyed even more... the interesting thing is! I found the treatment for the third one!! We've been married for 14 years and I found it on the back shelf recently. Also, I found another ...more
Jul 17, 2014 Addy rated it it was amazing
This was a very entertaining and addictive read. It was mysterious. I didn't know what was going on til the very end. Halfway through it became sort of a whodunit, but I wasn't disappointed because it still kept its horror aspect. The ending was surprising and had some very interesting elements that tied it all in dealing with religious themes. I also had no idea that its a movie, so can't wait to ser it someday. Recommend strongly.
Dark Recesses
Horror Classics Book Review

By Jeffrey Konvitz
(Original publication date: 1974)

My suspicion is that there was a different expectation from horror in the 1970s. “The Sentinel” is not as horrific as one might expect from, what is considered, a classic horror work from the early boom of the genre. In 1974, Ira Levin and William Peter Blatty were the leaders of the burgeoning genre, and King had yet to become a household name. Most people didn’t know the difference between a well-written
May 04, 2011 Martha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: horror
I have to admit this story had me somewhat bored and I just skimmed the second half of the book to "finish" it. Not scary or even very interesting.
The main character is a rich model named Allison. She starts having headaches and fainting spells for some reason. This is what happens throughout at least the first third of the book. The word "migraine" is used interchangeably with "headache", which is kind of a pet peeve of mine since I suffer from migraines and they are not a normal headache. Also
Robb Bridson
Oct 17, 2012 Robb Bridson rated it liked it
I'm pretty nostalgic about '70s Satan horror, both books and movies, and this book really fit the feeling. I'm an atheist myself, and what I find enjoyable about the religious horror of that era is that it has that kind of "Tales from the Dark Side" melting reality to reveal a supernatural underside, and to me it's the same feeling whether it's a Christian demonology underneath or some mythical magical stuff. In this case, I think the book is based more on Paradise Lost than the Bible.

I like the
Nov 15, 2014 Derek rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy scary books, but add Satan and a priest and I can't put them down. Catholic thing, I'm sure. For fans of Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, the Sentinel borrows obviously and heavily. Both books are set in New York City, and both begin with a pretty young catholic girl hunting for the perfect apartment in an old brownstone. Rosemary's new husband is an overly-ambitious actor, and Allison's long-time boyfriend is an overly ambitious lawyer. You almost want to shout at Allison: "Be careful! ...more
The Haunted Reading Room {Cthulhu Down the Chimney Tonight}
Review: THE SENTINEL by Jeffrey Konvitz

Originally published in 1974, and later adapted as film, THE SENTINEL relates the tragic tale of model Allison Parker, an Indiana native living the dream in Manhattan. The death by terminal illness of her long-estranged father should finally free her from the traumatic chains of her past. Certainly, the serendipity of discovering an affordable renovated brownstone apartment is an external indicator of her new good fortune. But "too good to be true" often ha
Rebecca McNutt
Jan 07, 2016 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
Great book, it has this sinister sense of foreboding the whole way through that makes it more and more suspenseful. Anyone who likes Communion by Frank Lauria or Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin would definitely love this one.
Oct 02, 2009 les rated it really liked it
campy yet creepy story about who guards the gates of Hell; better than the movie which was actually pretty decent(with Christina Raines). Proves the gates of Hell really are in Brooklyn, which I've suspected all along, having grown up in Manhattan.
Gilda Felt
It’s not that difficult to go astray with horror. There’s such a fine line between it and parody, an author must make sure that he doesn’t cross it. One way to cross that line is to people your story with caricatures. Like a cigar-chopping cop who wears a fedora. Or giving the heroine a lover who you can’t imagine why she’s with him. Of course, lots of her actions are totally inexplicable. But then, so is she as a character. To the point where I didn’t really care what happened to her. Or anyone ...more
Nov 17, 2014 Jesse rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, 2014
Continuing on my 70's-80's horror kick, I remembered Konvitz's novel from my childhood (my uncle had the paperback and the cover kinda scared me); upon seeing a used copy at my local book store, I picked it up.

Part of the horror wave ushered in by Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, The Sentinel is a lesser, more formulaic work. There's nothing groundbreaking here, but it's fun in a B-movie sort of way. Deviltry was big in the mid-70's and you get a heapin' spoonful of it here, along with haunted
Jan 28, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Excellent classic horror. Believable characters, well paced plot, and wonderfully suspenseful. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 star is the big reveal. There was just too much exposition there for my liking. I wish that had been dealt with differently. But the ending itself was satisfying. So much so, in fact, that I'm really looking forward to checking out the sequel, The Guardian. If you like horror (especially classic horror), suspense, urban mysteries, etc, check this one out!

**I r
Jan 18, 2016 Irene rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
This is a classic horror that I missed out on the first time around because I never knew it was a book. I remember seeing the movie when I was a kid or bits of it anyway but I didn't realize it was adapted from a book.

A model with a dark past moves into a great apartment with affordable rent. All is well until she meets her neighbors!

Some of the language is a bit dated but the story itself stands up to the test of time.

I would rate it 4 of 5 stars.

I received a complimentary copy for review.
May 25, 2016 Josephine rated it it was ok
I have had this book since 1977 and had never read it. Because it was recommended to me by goodreads I decided to give it a go. It was a fairly usual sort of horror of its time, nasty goings on in an old building, evil spirits trying to prevent the survival of 'The Sentinel'. There was one part that made me feel uncomfortable because it seem that a sex scene had just been put in for titillation. For me it was a bit over the top and unnecessary. Other than that a run of the mill horror.
Miles Oliver
Feb 12, 2014 Miles Oliver rated it really liked it
A quick read. Like a lot of people, I remember the movie as something scary at the time that hasn't held up as well as some of it's contemporaries. The book filled in a few gaps that the movie left open. I enjoyed it, but could have done without the detective sub-plot. Creepy at times, but not anything that would make me want to leave the lights on. Still, I'd recommend it. Probably more effective if you haven't seen the film.
Aug 17, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
Classic 70s horror from that era when the Devil and all things underworld was the rage. Decent writing and spooky scenarios kept me turning the pages quicker than expected. Not as creepy as The Exorcist, but worth the ride.
Kevin Lucia
Jun 28, 2013 Kevin Lucia rated it really liked it
A lot more intriguing than I thought it would be, though a little heavy-handed in the end. It did, however, rise above my expectations. Will be fun to talk about on Horror 101....
Oct 02, 2009 Ladyjexie rated it really liked it
One of my all time favorite scary stories about a blind priest guarding the entrance to hell.
Oct 28, 2016 Tepintzin rated it really liked it
Shelves: catholicism, horror
Oh man, the 70s. Such an awful decade, full of such awful self-indulgence. "The Sentinel" is another "the devil in New York" story like "Rosemary's Baby", full of shallow people living hedonistic lives suddenly finding out that the world is a lot deeper than they ever imagined....

Allison Parker is a pretty young model dating a successful criminal defense attorney. All she wants is to get her own apartment and be her own person for a while. She finds a place she likes a lot, although her bunch of
This review may contain spoilers, but since the book is 42 years old the cat is surely out of the bag by now.

The Sentinel is a very mediocre horror story and I think I was a little too generous with my original rating of three stars so I had to knock one of them off because I'm not a very generous person by nature.

In all of the places in the entire world the gateway to hell is located in an old brownstone in New York City. Alison Parker is destined to rent an apartment there and will be forced
Jon Weidler
Nov 02, 2016 Jon Weidler rated it it was ok
When held to the standards of the well-known Satanic-panic novels of the era, "The Sentinel" falls miserably short, cribbing the best parts of "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist" into a weak narrative about a dim-witted, Catholic-guilt-ridden fashion model, her patriarchal asshole of a boyfriend, and the bizarre residents of a foreboding Manhattan brownstone. Author Jeffrey Konvitz alternates between anvil-heavy dialog passages and purple exposition, while never building a particularly strong ...more
Nov 09, 2016 Michael rated it it was ok
The story was okay--a bit meandering, much more about Allison not feeling well than anything supernatural, much less scary--but the writing pushed the boundaries of just plain bad. At first, all the adverbs amused me. Then came, "'I'm sorry,' she said apologetically. Really?? Even in an era when adverbs were more acceptable, that's terrible. Much worse than the two times I had to endure, "... she asked curiously."
Oct 21, 2016 Ali rated it liked it
Meh. This might have been a really thrilling book when it was written, but for a book that I *knew* going in, was about possession, I was dismayed I had to get 80% through to book for anything resembling possession vs. a weak conspiracy.

I found the pace/cadence of speech/constant switch of 3rd person voice frustrating, perhaps it was a stylistic choice but it came off amateurish. That said, I'm not mad I read it, or that I spend $2 on it.
Mary Johnson
Nov 01, 2016 Mary Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scary stuff

I read this book the week of Halloween. Perfect for the holiday. The book was predictable but scary. I will be reading the next book entitled The Guardian as soon as I can.
Frank Deschain
Nov 01, 2016 Frank Deschain rated it it was amazing
I really liked this one, it's very atmospheric. It's a bit like Rosemary's Baby but with a way different concept. Vatican plots, demonic tenants, and one hard boiled detective combine for a brilliant piece of 70's gold. It's not too dated either. The writing is beautiful.
Leanne Hunt
This book had a very good premise but I found it deeply disappointing. The language in the story is consistent with extreme horror but the actual writing style seems to undermine this and render the narrative self-conscious and repetitive. Witness the protagonist rushing across the room, then rushing to the door, then rushing to the wardrobe; could she not have stumbled, then staggered, then made her way blindly? Perhaps the audio book didn’t do the story justice. Anyway, I felt dissatisfied ...more
Oct 18, 2016 Elisa rated it really liked it
Some parts are really creepy, others a little slow. It is curious to read about life in 1977 - it sounds like the Middle Ages with no cell phones or the internet (it's the year my little sister was born, so this makes me realize how old I am). The old brownstone, the neighbors, the blind priest... it has all the elements to give you nightmares.
Nov 16, 2016 Latasha rated it liked it
Well... this book was ok. Allison got on my nerves sometimes but not so much that I hated her or couldn't finish the book. The story was very interesting. I never saw that ending coming!
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Jeffrey Konvitz was born in New York City, but after graduating from Cornell University and Columbia Law School, he headed to Los Angeles, where he lives and works as an entertainment finance attorney, producer (The Sentinel and Spy Hard, among others) and novelist. His first published novel (Simon and Schuster and Ballantine) was The Sentinel, which rose to Number 2 on the New York Times Mass ...more
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