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Saturday, November 7, 2009

"The Hotel Under the Sand" by Kage Baker (Spotlight Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Kage Baker's Website here
Order Hotel Under the Sand from amazon here
Read an excerpt of Hotel Under the Sand here

Introduction: Kage Baker is widely known for her series of books titled The Company, in which it follows time traveling immortals. She is also known for various other sci-fi/fantasy titles.

The Hotel Under the Sand came to my attention through the Cybil awards. I had shown some interest in reading House of the Stag which was written by Kage Baker back in 2008 but due to time still haven't gotten around to it. From the cover of the book I didn't really know what to expect except for a hotel under the sand. What I came to find out was that this book was that the real treat was inside.

Overview: A hundred years ago a man named Marquis de Lafayette Wenlocke had a vision of building a hotel out in the middle of nowhere. This hotel had a unique feature to it: it has the ability to stop time and allow those guests that wish to stay to stay forever without having any thoughts of time or getting back to the real world.

Unfortunately for Mr. Wenlocke the location that he choose wasn't the wisest location and a storm came, the day before the hotel was scheduled to open. In the wake of the storm the hotel was consumed by the sands that surrounded the hotel. Mr. Wenlocke went missing, and many of the workers of the hotel were able to get out and off the island safely.

Many years later, a storm has brought little Emma to the very island that this grand hotel was built and buried on. Through building a shelter for herself she has uncovered the long lost hotel. Emma is visited by a ghost of a former bellhop of the hotel that explains the past to her and what happened to the hotel.

While exploring the hotel Emma encounters a cook that has awoken from an enchanted sleep when the hotel was buried, and a pirate. Not only does Emma explore the hotel but she also embarks on a treasure hunt that helps her learn about herself.

Analysis: The Hotel Under the Sand on the outside is a very small book. At only 180 pages with illustrations it may appear to many people as just a book for younger readers but it's a gem for readers of all ages.

While many short books try to pack in as many details and action as possible and let character development slip, Hotel Under the Sand doesn't do that. The characters that appear in the book are charming and pull at the heart strings of the readers. Emma is a little girl that although lost is very polite, and intelligent. She may appear on the outside as one sided but for the amount of time given she is a very detailed character. Along with Emma is that of the bellhop, Winston. Readers learn the background story of how Winston became a bellhop and what resulted in his untimely death.

Along with the characters is that of the sense of wonder in the book. Readers explore along with Emma the island that the hotel is on, and even that of the hotel. Kage Baker does a wonderful job of describing everything as it comes along with just the right amount of detail to help visualize what is going on but not over detail so that is appears boring or dull.

As with many children books that are on the shorter side there is the downfall that readers (like myself) are left almost wanting more. While this is a self contained story and everything is resolved and wrapped up, there is the sense that I wish we could have stayed with more parts of the story for longer. For example, I loved Emma going through the hotel and would have liked to learn a little more about this and see her explore more areas. The areas that were explored were great I just wanted more!

There are some lovely illustrations done by Stephanie Pui-Mun, that are present within the book. Although not in color these pictures pop up at just the right moment and are wonderfully detailed. It helps build the imagery that I had imagined without doing all the work for me. Something I love about children's books.

Over all Hotel Under the Sand is one of those books that I truly believe could appeal to both kids and adults. The younger kids will have a great time exploring and learning, and Baker does a great job of writing at a level that most kids will understand and love, and not feel talked down to. While older readers, will find a charming and very heart grabbing story with this book, and also a very quick satisfying read. Kage Baker has done a wonderful job of producing a work that has an appeal to readers of all ages.


Charlotte said...

Yep--More Hotel! was one of my reactions too--I loved that part of the book so much!

Anonymous said...

Looks fascinating! well worth a read :)

Cindy said...

It's a very quick read but it's worth it :)

Charlotte, I know that if I was a kid and found a hotel like that I'd have been in every single room around that whole place :)

CroakerBC said...

Hi Cindy!
I just finished reading Kage Baker's The House of The Stag and found it to be a real good satirical fantasy novel. I love it when a story is told from the perspective of the bad guy. Hope you'll find the time to read it. However, I'd suggest reading The Anvil of The World, first, because The House of The Stag tells the story of the infamous Dark Lord who made a brief but riveting appearance in The Anvil of The World.

Still can't find a copy of The Hotel Under the Sand at the local bookstores, though :(

Cindy said...

Thank you Croaker I was just thinking about that series. I'm going to try it really soon :)

Did you ever get a copy of the series?


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