Warning: If you have not read “Hotel Ruby” by Suzanne Young, do not read this review if you wish to avoid some major spoilers! If you don’t mind, however, feel free to read it!
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Hotel Ruby” by Suzanne Young! Given that it’s more of a book in the horror genre, I thought it was perfect to open up October! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“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 life in a place that is so much more than it seems…”
I thought there was something a bit sketchy about Elias immediately trying to charm Audrey, as well as Audrey being charmed by him in return. Right from the get-go, I knew there was something up. It wasn’t just Elias that kept me on my toes the whole novel, but also the rest of the characters including the hotel staff, the dastardly Kenneth, and even Catherine, who at first seems to be flat but actually is a little deeper than she seems as revealed later in the book. All of the hotel residents and staff really helped to drive the novel’s plot, as well as Audrey’s constant discovery that things are definitely not what they seem.
The aesthetic of the Hotel Ruby reminds me hugely of the TV show “American Horror Story: Hotel,” due to the glitz and glamour presented within the Hotel Ruby as well as the not-so-nice secrets it hides. I could elaborate even more as of why, but that would reveal some plot-related elements so I will refrain from that. The way Audrey goes around trying to learn more about the place (and eventually wanting more and more out of the place) reminds me a lot of Amethyst from Marzia Bisognin’s “Dream House” due to both protagonists having this curiosity to know more despite how dreadful the truth may be.
As for the romance between Elias and Audrey, I have to admit it was…definitely a bit too fast, even compared to light novels I’ve read like “Sword Art Online: Aincrad.” I wonder if that was deliberate, given how it does help set up for some backstory regarding Elias and Catherine, as well as the Hotel Ruby itself, but even then it still felt a bit too fast. It was very interesting, however, reading Elias and Audrey’s increasing interactions and attraction towards each other.
I was floored by some of the plot twists revealed in this book, but I have to admit the last bit of the book where all of the staff, Catherine and Elias were finally telling Audrey about what exactly went down regarding the Hotel Ruby was a bit too much like an info-dump. It was creepy in the way they took turns describing their own demises, but at the same time I wish I could have the time to piece this information together myself, rather than have it all dumped on me in one sitting. The ending of the book helped to redeem this, however, with a bittersweet ending—Audrey overcomes her fear and ends Kenneth’s wrath on all the other hotel residents for good, but at the cost of her being stuck in the Hotel Ruby forever. I admit the ending made me tear up—but in a good way.
Overall, I’m rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars for the intriguing characters, decent worldbuilding save for the information-dumping close to the end, and the slightly-too-fast romance. I’d definitely recommend it, though, for anyone who wants something creepy but mysterious and glamorous.