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Review: Hotel Book by Mary McMain

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Hotel’s book described to me as a story about a witch who put Rapunzel in a tower. And this is partially correct. I think most of the story is more of a Hellwise origin story. And while we’ll get bits and pieces of the Rapunzel story a little later, if you go into it thinking that’s the bulk of the story, you might be disappointed. Continue reading this book review for full thoughts.

Summary

Halewise has always lived in the shadow of her mother Hedda, a woman who will do anything to protect her daughter. For with her strange black eyes and even stranger fainting spells, her medieval village eludes Helwise, and her only solace lies in the stories her mother tells her of child-stealing witches, of princes in wolf skins, of an ancient tower shrouded in mist, where women will find shelter if they dare to seek it.

Hedda then dies and Haelwise is left without a mooring. With nothing left in her village, she sets off in search of the legendary tower her mother spoke of – a place called the Hotel, where Helwise meets a wise woman willing to take her under her wing.

But Helwise is not the only woman seeking refuge at the Hotel. It is also a haven for a girl named Rika, who carries with her a secret that the Church tries to keep hidden. A secret that reveals the dark world of ancient spells and murderous nobles beyond the world Halewise has always known…

Review

(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This did not influence my review, which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: Sexual assault

“Villain” origin stories will always fascinate me. What we think of as the evil character of the story and how in Rapunzel most of the “villains” are not given names. They serve as locations for the force that our protagonist must overcome. Hotel’s book is the story of Hellwise. How she has to get bogged down and wade through layers of misinformation. When we are alone, we can be so susceptible to influences that are not in our best interest. To the information we believe to be correct about the world, our family, and ourselves.

But this is not so far from the truth. Hotel’s book explores these topics in depth. The story of Halewise as she must figure out her own power and relationship to the world. So if you’re looking for a story that’s mostly an origin story and about 10% Rapunzel vibe, then this is for you. That’s just the main caveat I have in terms of expectations. Once I was able to turn, I had a much more enjoyable reading experience. To see her being made a target for blame. Ostracized and alone as Haelewise must determine his own truth.

But?

in general Hotel’s book slow book. Maybe slower than you’d expect from a fantasy adventure. But I think that comes from the way he focuses on the character, on Halewise. In general, Hotel’s book explores the subtleties of character and perception. Asking what we sacrifice for justice and what we lose in the process. In general, Hotel’s book made me wait for the other shoe to drop for a while. Because when I started to recognize bits and pieces of what I knew, but I think a lot of it was the expectations I put into making the book.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate. For more information, you can check out the Policy page. If you don’t mind, know that you can find the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

If you like a story about what a girl has to do to find her way, to get through what people tell us and what we have to do for ourselves, pick it up anyway. I think it was too late for me to change my expectations around 2/3 of the book to course correct. I think the best approach for Hotel’s book would be to consider Halewise’s story independent of her role as Rapunzel. Find Hotel’s book on Goodreads, Amazon, Indie, Bookshop.org and Book storage.

Discussion

Who is your favorite “villain”?

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