I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley, and so this review is based on an uncorrected galley text. This book is a spooky adventure that takes place in a very strange hotel. Warren is a twelve-year-old heir to his family's big, grand, and very old hotel. He has to do most of the work while his lazy uncle, Rupert, and his new wife, Anaconda have taken over the management. Anaconda, who is very mean and nasty to Warren, is on the hunt for a hidden treasure known as the All-Seeing Eye. She has searched every inch of the grounds without finding anything. With the arrival of a strange, creepy guest whose face is all wrapped in bandages and the discovery of an ancient journal, Warren becomes convinced that he needs to find this All-Seeing Eye first in order to save the hotel from ruin.
I really enjoyed the author's classic mystery writing style as she introduces us to the characters and the mystery: "Yes, the hotel was full of secret nooks and hidey-holes, but in all his years of exploring he (Warren) had never discovered anything like this! On the front cover was the word 'Journal' embossed in gold."
This sets in motion a frantic search, awful discoveries and suspenseful action. I also like that as the story develops and the conflicts become more severe, none of the violence is over-the-top or inappropriately gruesome for the middle-grade reader. This book would be a comfortable read in most upper elementary/middle school classrooms, although there are a lot of characters and plot twists that might be confusing to less mature readers.
The backdrop of the classic, old hotel is a fun reminder of recent movies. Kids might be reminded of Hotel Transylvania. This book made me imagine the style of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
This is a fun book to read. I'm looking forward to having it in my classroom library.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: November 24, 2015 by Quirk Books