Thursday, November 6, 2014
Book Review: "The Grand Hotel" by Scott Kenemore
At the old ramshackle Grand Hotel, a nameless desk clerk leads his latest group of visitors on a tour of the building. The visitors don't seem to know why they are doing it, but they follow the desk clerk deeper and deeper into the hotel, becoming increasingly fascinated by the people who permanently reside at The Grand Hotel and the interesting stories they have to tell.
All in all, there are twelve stories to be told within The Grand Hotel (if you include that of the desk clerk and his visitors) and each is titled with the name of the person telling the story. The stories get a little longer and more involved at the novel goes on, but they are all wonderful on their own, while being completely unique and different from each other. They also tackle a wide assortment of subjects - from a basic revenge tale, to time travelling, to a dramatic ordeal in space. The different characters that are presented go from being shady and unlikable to very empathetic, though you could probably argue their motivations and actions either way.
I also loved Father Cyning's story because it reminded me so much of some of those classic haunted house sagas where the mysteries of the people inside are more intriguing than the supposed ghosts. This saga is about Father Cyning investigating a supposed charlatan ghostbuster at the mansion of one of his parishioners, and finding out that there is much more to the story than meets the eye. I'm a huge fan of both ghost stories and mysteries because the two are so often intertwined. I just think there's a lot to be said for really well-crafted and twisted tale that comes to a satisfying conclusion, which is what Father Cyning's story offers.
Going back to the wraparound story, this was fun one to try to figure out. While the desk clerk's macabre attitude towards his visitors definitely leads the reader to believe that he is actually someone very sinister - the back cover of the book flat out suggests that he may be the devil himself - it was wonderfully frustrating trying to discover his true intentions for the hotel guests, the visitors, and especially for the mysterious red-haired girl on the tour.
Though I absolutely love Kenemore's previous Zombie State novels, The Grand Hotel is quite possibly the best thing he's written so far. Perfectly framed within the ancient morals of good and evil, and right and wrong, is a delicious blend of the bizarre, the sad, the funny, and the scary that lies in all of us. Whose story will speak to you, and what will you learn from it? You'll have to visit The Grand Hotel yourself to find out.
The Grand Hotel is now available for purchase here!