You know all those clichés you hear bandied about – unputdownable, gripping, spine-chilling, page-turner?
Well, if ever a book deserved all of the above, but ABSOLUTELY NOT as clichés but most definitely as compliments, “The Hotel” is that book.
This is such a cleverly crafted book, carrying the reader along on successive waves of horror and suspense that I, for one, could hardly put it down.
The novel tells the story of friends who were involved in a teenage tragedy, and what happens when they reunite 10 years later. The tragedy, an accident in a remote, ruined clifftop hotel in Wales, centred around a film the youngsters wanted to make about the so-called haunted hotel, during their long summer break waiting for their A level results. They thought a film might help them with their applications to colleges and film-making courses, so the 4 of them – Leo, Bex, Oscar and Richard – set off with 2 cameras to film their midnight visit to the deserted Victorian hotel.
It all starts out almost as an Enid Blyton jape – rucksacks, torches, a rowing boat – but from the very beginning there is an ominous mood to the adventure.
Many of the events that occur that night – I will not plot-spoil, worry not – are caught on camera, and the resultant film, eventually released on the internet, becomes a huge success. The combination of tragedy, a believed-to-be-haunted Gothic hotel, and raw, realistic footage make the film a huge success and it becomes a conspiracy theorist’s delight. People pore over the grainy footage, to try and work out what happened. Annual conventions take place, people cosplay the 4 teenagers, and there is a devoted following of fans who all have their own version of what happened.
Then a media company decides to make another film at the hotel, with the original friends, to mark 10 years since the tragedy. We see most of the events through the eyes of Bex, the only girl in the group, who has hidden herself away for much of the past 10 years, struggling to comprehend what happened. She decides that a return visit to the hotel, much as she hates the idea of the film, might help her answer many of her unanswered questions about the tragedy of a decade ago.
The author skilfully layers one shock on top of another – never too much, never too dramatic – but we become as jittery as Bex as she tries to make sense of what happened and what is happening.
A smashing read.
And I certainly hadn’t figured out the ending.