Hot Key Books (2013)
Living in an Art Deco hotel in New York sounds like a dream – but not if you’re broke. Scarlett finds out on her fifteenth birthday just how bad things have gotten in the shabby hotel she calls home. Her younger sister Marlene can’t stand her, and her older brother and sister are working non-stop to help the family. It all seems hopeless, until an eccentric new guest checks in, and changes Scarlett’s life.
This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it. The setting is fantastic, and I loved the snippets of history about the hotel’s past. This really added to the atmosphere of The Hopewell, a fascinating place with plenty of character. Part of the plot revolves around a play, and this is echoed in the structuring of the book into acts. The production of Hamlet is fantastic, in terms of how the play is eventually staged, and the many obstacles it faces to reach this point.
The characters are very memorable, particularly Scarlett’s brother Spencer, whose stunts provide a lot of comedy. I enjoyed the Martin family, not just because of the very distinctive personalities of the siblings, but also because of the believable family dynamics. This was quite a contrast from the dramatic Mrs Amberson, whose character is a bit over the top, but she adds to the fun and chaos of the book.
The romance plot was also handled well, and I liked that it didn’t completely take over the book. It does form a significant part of the story, and is something Scarlett obsesses about, but we also get to see different sides of her character. There are plenty of plots at work in this story – the play, the stories of the different siblings, Scarlett’s struggles to deal with Mrs Amberson – which make for an interesting and varied read.
This is a well-written New York adventure with plenty of drama, emotion and humour. I was delighted to get the chance to read the sequel as well and I will be posting my review shortly.
Originally reviewed for LoveReading4Kids.