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A Famous-Five style adventure for grown-ups – CARDIGANSHIRE / LONDON

5th June 2023

The Hotel by Louise Mumford, a Famous-Five style adventure for grown-ups – CARDIGANSHIRE / LONDON

A Famous-Five style adventure for grown-ups - CARDIGANSHIRE / LONDON

The Hotel features “clean-living, book-reading, plant-tending, record-listening, yoga-bending” Bex Harrison. Bex has been a virtual recluse for the past ten years, since she and three eighteen-year-old friends – Leo, Oscar and Richard – were filming in Ravencliffe, a spooky abandoned Victorian hotel in Wales, as part of a school project. The project ended tragically when Leo disappeared, apparently having fallen to his death, though his body wasn’t found. Bex was shattered by the events but, despite everything, the film and its young creators became a cult hit. Fans meet up annually to watch the footage and try to work out what happened to Leo. As the tenth anniversary conference approaches, a package arrives containing a cigarette lighter that belonged to Leo. Has he been alive all this time or is someone taunting her? She decides to attend RavenCon10 in an attempt to find out.

There are tensions between the group of friends and suspicion falls on several of the characters. The survivors return to Ravencliffe, participating in a filmed reconstruction of events. The author cleverly creates various parallels between the teenagers’ original visit and the return to Ravencliffe, creating intrigue and concern for the welfare of the characters. Whether by luck or not, I guessed the outcome fairly early on, and felt that the explanation for Leo’s disappearance was telegraphed a while before it was revealed. I did enjoy the back story: the historical accounts of the death of Peter Manning, a Victorian workman, during the building of the hotel; the suicide of Reginald Morwood, the hotel’s original owner, and the intrigue surrounding Morwood’s wife, Jane.

For me, The Hotel was more an interesting diversion than a genuinely tense thriller. Less Blair Witch Project and more Famous Five – the author herself refers to “lashings of ginger beer”. Louise Mumford describes her fictional location in impressive detail, so it’s easy to imagine the Gothic hotel and its grounds, perched high above Cardigan Bay. I’d recommend The Hotel to readers who enjoy suspense but don’t like books that are too scary.

*Although the key locations are Cardiganshire and London, they are mentioned in passing, and the fictional locations are more important to the book.

Sue for the TripFiction Team

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