Stay Tonight. Stay Forever.
When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.
Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn't have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.
The more Audrey learns about the new people she's met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…
Three and a half stars: An interesting story, with a terrific, eerie setting, but it ended up being predictable.
Audrey is impressed by the glamour of the Hotel Ruby, which is in the middle of nowhere. She is happy to finally be able to stop and rest after the long trip. After her first night, she is even more excited that her father is allowing them to stay a couple of extra days, putting off the day when her dad dumps Audrey and her brother, Daniel, off at her grandmother's. However, Audrey begins to quickly sense that things aren't quite what they seem, and that something is off at the hotel. What is the deal with the ongoing party, and why didn't she get an invitation? Is there something sinister at the Hotel Ruby?
What I Liked:
- If you like a good ghost story with exciting twists and an eerie atmospheric setting, you should try the Hotel Ruby. Even though I was able to guess the big twist early on, I still enjoyed the fantastic setting and the story.
- What makes this book shine is the setting. The Hotel Ruby is a glittering gem with its glitz and glamour and timeless elegance, but the longer you stay in the Ruby, the more it seems to take on a life of its own. I loved how Hotel was always changing. Ms. Young does an excellent job with the descriptions and the detail, and I loved how she brought the hotel to life. I thought it was the perfect backdrop for the story.
- I liked the strange, dreamlike quality of the story. From the get go, the reader gets the sense that something isn't quite right with the hotel and its inhabitants. Time doesn't exist in the hotel, and the longer Audrey is there, the more dreamlike and foggy things become. The unease continues to build as little unsettling details continue to drop, leading up to the big shocking reveal at the end. I enjoyed the overall mystery, even if I was able to guess the twist early on.
- Audrey is an interesting character with complexity and depth. She is still reeling from the sudden death of her mother three months prior. Since then, she has struggled to maintain her sanity and to keep her family together, but unfortunately, she is losing her grip. She has plenty of flaws, and I didn't always like everything about her, but in the end, I loved her courage, and her fierce determination to keep her family together whatever the cost. She is faced with some difficult choices, and she must make a big sacrifice. In the end, I was pleased with her decisions.
- The ending was a bit of a surprise, but I liked it. I was pleased with the way it all played out and, I liked Audrey's decision. All the questions were answered, and there is no cliffhanger. A nice, solid, ghostly stand alone.
And The Not So Much:
- The romance was a miss. I never felt the chemistry, and even though I liked Elias, I didn't think he and Audrey worked well together, mostly because the romance was an insta love situation. I was also taken a back at how quickly Audrey fell for Elias considering her past.
- Speaking of Audrey's past, there were all these references to Audrey's previous boyfriend, Ryan, and how Audrey mistreated him and took advantage of him. She was horrible to him, and I didn't exactly see what purpose these revelations served to the overall story, if anything, it made me like Audrey a lot less, and it made me question her feelings for Elias.
- The story was too predictable. If you are a seasoned reader, you have likely encountered another book with the same premise. I read one just a couple of months ago. There are many hints dropped throughout, and it was rather evident early on as to what was going on. I thought by clueing the reader in early on, that it took a bit of something away from the story, so when the big dramatic finish happened, it wasn't as impressive.
- There is an interesting cast of secondary characters, but none of them felt well developed. Most of them were flat and stereotypical like Cathy the snobby rich girl, or Josh and Lourdes the friendly help or Elias the tortured rich boy trying to escape his past, and Audrey's dad is the typical disinterested and uninformed parent. I wished that the author had a spent a little more time developing and fleshing out the characters, making the reader care about them. As it was, Lourdes was the only one who drew my attention.
Hotel Ruby was an entertaining and interesting ghost book with a twist. Unfortunately, the reader is able to predict early on what the mystery is, and thus, it the book isn't as impactful. Still I loved the setting, and I liked the story. If you want a ghost story with an excellent setting, I would recommend checking out Hotel Ruby.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.