Title: The Last Chance Hotel
Author: Nicki Thornton
Publisher: Chicken House Books
Publication Date: 7th June 2018
About the book:
Seth is a kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel. His father has long ago left, leaving him imprisoned until he is old enough to set out on his own. If there’s any hope he has, it’s to be the greatest chef that ever lived… just like his father.
One night, a band of magicians begin to arrive to participate in a secret meeting — a Prospect Selection Procedure to determine the most talented magicians in the world, judged by their leader Dr. Thallonius. Seth has one task: to make Dr. Thallonius the greatest dessert he’s ever tasted. Then, maybe he will help Seth find a way to freedom.
But when the doors to the private meeting open, and Dr. Thallonius lay dead on the floor, the group blames the dessert, which means that it’s Seth who will pay the price. But Seth knows he’s innocent, and only has so much time to eliminate each suspect and prove his innocence.
What I Thought:
This one has been sitting on my shelf for some time. Its follow up The Bad Luck Lighthouse caught my eye and I just had to buy them both. It’s taken me far too long to get around to reading it, but it’s far from being to book to sit the longest unread on my shelves!
Seth Seppi is the kitchen boy at the Last Chance Hotel, having been left there ever since his father, a well renowned chef died. Seth is put to work by the owners doing all sorts of tasks around the hotel, cleaning rooms, helping with luggage, delivering room service as well as working in the kitchen helping to prepare meals and washing up. Life takes a bit of a turn for Seth when 7 guests arrive at the hotel, when one of the guests passes away Seth finds himself accused of murder and finds himself having to defend himself while trying to investigate it himself. Fortunately he finds some support from unusual places!
I must confess one of the things I have come to enjoy about middle grade books is the shorter chapters! The Last Chance Hotel is no different, it is filled with short chapters, perfectly designed for both those reading on their own, and those being read to to fit in a couple of chapters before bed. For us older readers you really get a sense of progress as you make your way through the chapters, the number of pages remaining seems to decrease much faster here then in a book with a similar number of pages but fewer chapters! Despite the action only taking place across a couple of days the story feels very fast moving and I genuinely struggled to put it down as I needed to know what happened to Seth!
Which nicely brings me on to the wonderful cast of characters that make up The Last Chance Hotel, starting of course with the star of the book, Seth Seppi! There’s a touch of Cinderella about Seth, an orphan who is being used to complete menial tasks by the owners of the Last Chance Hotel. It’s hard not to feel for the young boy who has lost both parents and wants nothing more than to live up to the legacy of his father, a fantastic chef. He has a lot to learn during the course of the book, discovering the basics of the magical world as well as attempting to prove his innocence. There were some really interesting twists towards the end. I look forward to seeing what’s next for Seth!
As a girl who grew up with the Melissa Joan Hart version of Sabrina the teenage witch, complete with the brilliantly sarcastic Salem the cat, I absolutely loved the sassiness of Nightshade! I look forward to seeing how she accompanies Seth going forward.
I’m going to wrap the other characters in one as I don’t want to accidentally give too much away with my comments about them! There was a wonderful collection of characters, to both love and be wary of! There is an out an out villain (or two) and some characters on the dubious side! One of the things I actually liked best about this book was the way Nicki even had me questioning the characters I liked!
What a brilliant middle grade mystery this is! I love a good locked room mystery and the addition of a little magical twist was wonderful! I’m looking forward to catching up with Seth in The Bad Luck Lighthouse and I’m really hoping Angelique and Inspector Pewter make appearances!
About The Author
Nicki Thornton has run an independent bookshop with her husband for more than ten years and loves the wonderful alchemy that comes from bringing together authors and readers. Her favourite part of the job is hearing from children about the books they love, including from her own two boys, and this inspired her to start to write. Her dream of seeing her own name on the shelves has come closer with her magical murder mystery The Last Chance Hotel winning the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition 2016.
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?