Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Hotel Under the Sand (MG)

The Hotel Under the Sand. By Kage Baker. 2009. [July 2009] Tachyon Publications. 144 pages.

Cleverness and bravery are absolutely necessary for good adventures. Emma was a little girl both clever and brave, and destined--so you might think--to do well in any adventure that came her way. But the first adventure Emma had was dreadful.

Emma has lost everything. From the first readers learn,

"One day a storm came and swept away everything that Emma knew. When it had done all that, it swept away Emma too. It might have been a storm with black winds, with thunder and lightning and rising waves. It might have been a storm with terrible anger and policemen coming to the door, and strangers, hospitals, courtrooms, and nightmares. It might have been a storm with soldiers, and fire, and hiding in cellars listening to shooting overhead. There are different kinds of storms. But Emma faced the storm that swept over her, and found a way to save herself." (11-12)
Emma is definitely a survivor. She finds herself in the Dunes. A lonely and bewildering place to be. But she won't be lonely for long. Not with the magic all around. There's the ghost of a bellboy, Winston, who along with Emma uncovers the strangely magical--almost timeless--hotel that's been buried under the sand all these years. The Grand Wenlocke never had its grand opening because before the guests could arrive (but after some of the guests' belongings had arrived) it was buried under the sand by a horrible, terrible storm. And there it has remained lost in the Dune with all its treasure and secrets. And its ghost. (Never could you forget Winston once you've met him.) Now that the hotel has been discovered, uncovered, it seems to draw guests to it. Some guests are quite unusual! And here the adventure starts. But will this new adventure heal Emma?

Kage Baker's The Hotel Under the Sand is one of the finalists for this year's Andre Norton Award*.

*The full title is the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's in great company: Ice by Sarah Beth Durst; Ash by Malinda Lo; Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev; Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente; and Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Charlotte 7:17 AM  

This was one of the most memorable books I read last year--truly haunting.

Olivia 7:54 AM  

I love these kinds of books, where the main character discovers a secret place, even if it is a house, or a city. But I have had some difficulty finding books with this specific topic. Now that you have reviewed The Hotel Under The Sand, I can't wait to read it!

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