I had the opportunity to read a digital-ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for this review. I enjoyed reading this book. It was a mystery book that pulled me in pretty quickly. Eleven-year-old Quinn is traveling through the desert Southwest with her best friend, Kara Cawston, and her family. The Cawstons are moving away from Denver, Colorado and Quinn is taking this last trip with them as a chance to have a vacation away from her own family. Things have been rough in Quinn's family since her younger sister, Emma, disappeared without a trace several months back.
Midway through the trip, the Cawston family stops to rest for a night at a strange hotel in the middle of the desert, The Inn Between. From the moment they checked in, Quinn notices all sorts of strange things: weird guests hanging around in the lobby, no outgoing phone lines for hotel guests to use, no working television in the room. Everyone is so tired and hungry that no one thinks too much about it.
But then Kara's parents disappear without so much as a note to the kids. After eating a huge breakfast in the restaurant and spending time at the swimming pool, Kara's brother, Josh disappears too. Now Quinn and Kara must figure out what happened to the rest of the family and decide how to stay safe themselves!
The characters seem pretty true-to-life. Three adolescent children and a couple of parents on a road trip is something many readers will be able to relate to. You can almost feel how hot, dusty, and exhausting this trip is for this family. Readers will also be able to picture this weird, old-fashioned hotel and imagine themselves as guests there.
The story is told from Quinn's point of view. The narrative shifts back and forth between the present and flashback scenes from when her sister disappeared and her family's reaction to the crisis. Emma's disappearance has had a profound effect on Quinn and her whole outlook on life, and this helps drive the events of the book forward.
As the family disappears, one-by-one, the suspense builds. It was very difficult to tear myself away, as I wanted to figure out what happened and what the girls were going to do about it. Once I reached the end, I was still thinking about it later. The ending is such, that now I want to go back and reread parts of it. I love it when books leave me thinking and wondering about them and wanting to look back!
While there is some violence and some creepy parts to the book, none of it is over-the-top scary. I haven't experienced any bad dreams and I would be very comfortable having this book in my fifth grade classroom library. I think that many of my students who enjoy suspenseful books will like this one as well!
Hardcover, 208 pages
Expected publication: March 22nd 2016 by Roaring Brook Press