This review is going to be pretty short. Hotel Ruby is a horror novel written by Suzanne Young, who also wrote The Program (which I think got to be pretty popular, though I haven’t personally read it.) I was excited for this book because it’s been a while since I’ve read a scary story, and the last scary story that I read and appreciated was that compilation of shorts in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
I ended up being pretty disappointed, though. While Hotel Ruby is written adequately and has an interesting plotline, it fell far from my expectations. It follows the story of Audrey Casella and her family (which consists of her brother, Daniel, and their dad,) all of whom are suffering greatly from the recent loss of Audrey’s mother. Their father’s decided that the best thing to do for their family is to dump his two kids off at their grandmother’s house, which obviously, Audrey and Daniel are not happy about at all. On the way to their grandmother’s, though, they decide to take a detour and spend the night at a very luxurious, completely randomly-placed hotel sitting in the middle of nowhere. It’s called Hotel Ruby, and it’s very much a high-end, five-star kind of place. So they stay the night and Audrey visits the ballroom, where every night they throw the same party, and promptly gets kicked out for not having an invitation. Slowly, through the book, you see the dad get sucked up into Ruby’s glamour, and then the brother. Audrey realizes that she might not ever leave and starts planning a way to get out.
The tagline of the book is “stay tonight. Stay forever.” which is a pretty catchy tagline, you know? And I was really excited to read it, but as I got further and further into the book, I just got so bored. For one thing, it’s really, painfully obvious that the people that Audrey is interacting with in the book are dead. I don’t know if that’s because it’s been done several times before or because all the ghost-characters make very cryptic comments about staying in the hotel forever or how “dead” everything is (for example, the woman that runs the gift shop says something along the lines of “this place is so boring, you’d think all the other guests are dead!!” HAHA. Get it? Because they’re actually dead! And then she said something like, “if something interesting doesn’t happen soon, I’ll just about kill myself.” Oh, gift shop lady. You’re a riot.)
Also, I really didn’t like Audrey’s character. She rubbed me the wrong way– I don’t know if it’s because she was so self-pitying all the time, which I feel bad about saying because she lost her mother three months ago, but most of this self-pitying isn’t even about her mother; it’s about her boyfriend, Ryan. Audrey was in a relationship with this perfect guy, Ryan, and she ended up falling out of love with him and only managed to break up with him really recently. She keeps talking about how she’s not in love with Ryan anymore and how she doesn’t want to go back to that relationship, and then every time Elias, the new love interest, does something, she immediately compares him to Ryan. I don’t know why, but it really grated on me. I don’t care about Ryan, Audrey! Also, god, there was so much awkward and unnecessary sexual tension between herself and Elias, who seemed like one of those really rich, “you can’t touch me my dad’s a lawyer” kind of kids. Actually, I think that the only character in this book that I liked was Lourdes, who is also the recipient of several very big injuries throughout the novel.
I think that the biggest thing for me is that the book moved really, really slowly. It’s a lot of backstory and her meeting ghost characters and getting creeped out by how cryptic they are. Kenneth the concierge is the main antagonist, and he’s written well-enough but we rarely see him around, except when he wants to make some terribly-veiled threats or intimidate someone, or then in his death scene. The Ruby is characterized as a living person, but you don’t see that in the novel except for in two specific parts. Other than that, the only reason you know that the Ruby is alive is because all the characters talk about how “the Ruby won’t let them leave, the Ruby has a mind of her own,” etc. And again, the characters just were not very likeable at all.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Read something else if you’re looking for a story.