The Hotel Under The Sand by Kage Baker (book review).

March 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘The Hotel Under The Sand’ is a novella by Kage Baker. It is the story of young Emma, who is swept from her home by a violent storm which leaves her stranded on a beach far away. There she meets the ghost of a young boy who used to be a bell captain at the Grand Wenlocke. This utterly amazing hotel was buried under tons of sand more than a hundred years ago, when it was hit by an enormous storm which also brought Winston’s life to an end.


The Grand Wenlocke was built by Mr. Wenlocke. This unusual and enterprising gentleman had invented a Temporal Delay Field to make his hotel a stunning attraction ‘Stay as long as you like – when you leave the Grand Wenlocke, only a weekend will have passed!’ This miraculous technology had kept the hotel well preserved as Emma and Winston discover, when another storm uncovers it. Not only the hotel is still in good shape, even the cook Mrs. Beet, the only person left behind in the hotel when it was buried under masses of sand, is very much alive and well for her advanced age of more than a hundred years.

It seems like a brilliant idea to reopen the Grand Wenlocke and bring the glamour and the luxury back to life. Emma, Winston and Mrs. Beet are soon joined by a pirate and the runaway heir of the Wenlocke dynasty who support them in the effort to get the hotel back into shape. At last, they open the hotel to some unexpected and magical guests, are threatened by the Wenlocke Family Trust and, in the end, everyone and everything reaches their destination.

‘The Hotel Under The Sand’ is written for young readers and can also be enjoyed by adults. Its style and the fantastic storyline strongly remind me of Roald Dahl. The adventure is well narrated, the vocabulary suited for younger readers. Don’t expect lots of action, this is a fun adventure not a thriller. The central plot consists of Emma and her friends going on a treasure hunt in the hotel.

The novella is a light and entertaining read for an afternoon at the beach. Emma is the only character with a bit more depth. All the others are supports and remain sketchy at best. ‘The Hotel Under The Sand’ is a radical departure from Kage Baker’s ‘Company’ novels or her fantasy fare but as well written as those books. I would strongly recommend it for fans of Roald Dahl and readers who are still young at heart.

Sven Scheurer

March 2015

(pub: Tachyon. 180 page enlarged paperback. Price: $ 8.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-892391-89-6)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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