From the New York Times bestselling author of The Program comes a brand-new haunting, romantic, and suspenseful story about one girl’s search for healing in a grand and mysterious hotel full of secrets. 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 in a place that is so much more than it seems… And the 13th chapter will only add to the mystery behind the 13th floor of Hotel Ruby...and ultimately, what it means for Audrey. Welcome to the Ruby.
The narrator, Audrey Casella is the first of her family to notice how strange the hotel is. First, there are the many talks of ghosts and the 75 people who died in the hotel. Second, there are mentions of the hotel as if the hotel is alive and conscious of itself. (Feeling creeped out yet? I swear the book started scaring me the second it mentioned ghosts.) Audrey doesn't know what's happening in the very beginning, but she knows something is incredibly wrong. And thus, starts the journey of finding out the truth.
The plot is very quick and masterful, and I love how Audrey slowly uncovers the horror of the hotel. Audrey is like that girl in a horror movie, not quite knowing the hotel's history yet also knowing that the hotel is a very dangerous place to be. She isn't exactly genre-savvy, but she certainly does learn the truth... eventually. But in time? (Hmm... No spoilers, though.)
Let's talk about the love interest. Elias Lange gets some moments and dialogue in the book, but he should have gotten some good character development. Though the romance isn't a focus point of the story, I would love to see a little more of it.
The villain of HOTEL RUBY is crafty, and readers can never be too sure of who exactly he/she is until the very end. He/she is someone we all love to hate and... well, bury six feet under. Again.
The level of horror isn't that scary compared to BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE and other ghost stories I can't name off the top of my head. But it does get frightening at some moments. For those who are easily scared (like me), don't read this at night. (I regret reading it at night.)
The ending is a very surprising yet also not surprising conclusion to the story. It's the ending that doesn't make anyone happy, but I can't think of any other way for Young to end the book. It's... inevitable, I guess? Especially with Audrey's character traits...
Overall, HOTEL RUBY is a story you do not read in the middle of the night (a decision I heavily regret after strange dreams about people chasing me through a three-star hotel). It's for fans of Katie Alender and those looking for a horror story with a twist.
Rating: Three out of Five