HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Haunted Hotel
Author: Janet Adele Bloss
Illustrator: Bill Robison
Publisher: Willowisp Press-Pages Publishing Group, 1989
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8-12
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Bloss, Janet Adele. The Haunted Hotel (published in 1989 by Acorn Books, a division of Worthington Press, 7099 Huntley Rd., Worthington, OH 43085). Twelve year old Laura Bingman, a sixth grader, lives in Indiana with her father, mother, and one year older brother Bill, a seventh grader. The Bingmans are driving to Brinkley, NH, to go skiing and to visit Mrs. Bingman’s brother and sister, Uncle Joe and Aunt Gigi. Three months before, Joe had obtained a job as caretaker of Brinkley’s Royal Windmont Hotel, which is closed for the winter because it is drafty and hard to heat. Also Rutherford Thackery, the author of Laura’s favorite series of mystery books about Gwen Gilderstar, and Laura hopes to see him. The kids hear some stories about the hotel being haunted by the ghost of a princess named Marie who had lived in the hotel a hundred years before but was reported to have just disappeared after she went insane following the death of her husband the Prince. Supposedly the princess can put people under her spell to do her bidding.
Then strange things begin happening. Laura and Bill see mysterious lights and a shadowy figure in the windows of the closed hotel. Even though they have been forbidden to go inside the old hotel, Laura is determined to investigate the mystery, just like Gwen Gilderstar. Bill rolls his eyes at Laura’s melodramatic mystery obsession, but goes with her. They hear organ music and a woman laughing, and they find a red rose on the floor, just like the roses in the portrait of the princess. Then, Bill catches a glimpse of the princess in the elevator, carrying an axe. Also they begin noticing that their uncle is behaving strangely and even lying about things. When they first arrive, their uncle tells them that Aunt Gigi has gone away to visit a sick friend. Then, Laura overhears him talking to Gigi on the phone, saying that she and her brother and parents are out to dinner, so she can’t talk to them. Later, Laura gets the chance to talk to Aunt Gigi and finds out that she only went to visit her friend because Joe insisted and that her friend isn’t sick.
Why would Uncle Joe do these things? Is he under the spell of the princess? Can Laura and Bill do anything to save him from her? Janet Adele Bloss, whose other books include Ballet Bunny, The Haunted Underwear, 30 Ways to Dump a Sister, and Max and the Secret Skunk, is the penname of Janet Shuff. When we lived in Dayton, OH, Ron and Janet Shuff lived nearby. About the same time as we adopted our older son, the Shuffs adopted a child from the same agency that we used, and they helped start the local adoption support group which we were in, so we became friends. Janet gave our son a copy of one of her children’s books, Teeny-Tiny Monster. Later, Ron, Janet, and their family moved to Texas, and we eventually moved to Missouri and then to Illinois. The Haunted Hotel has a few common euphemisms (gee, gosh, darn), but it is a well-written, suspenseful story that is easy and fun to read. Pre-teens and young adults who like spooky mysteries will enjoy it.