This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘THERE ARE WORSE PLACES THAN HELL…
‘Hotel Beresford is a grand, old building, just outside the city. And any soul is welcome.
‘Danielle Ortega works nights, singing at whatever dive bar will offer her a gig. She gets by, keeping to herself.
‘Sam Walker gambles and drinks, and can’t keep his hands to himself. Now he’s tied up in a shoe closet with a dent in his head that matches Danielle’s broken ashtray.
‘The man in 731 has been dead for two days and his dog has not stopped barking. Two doors down, the couple who always smoke on the window ledge will mysteriously fall.
‘Upstairs, in the penthouse, Mr Balliol sees it all. He can peer into every crevice of every floor of the hotel from his screen-filled suite.
‘He witnesses humanity and inhumanity in all its forms: loneliness, passion and desperation in equal measure. All the ingredients he needs to make a deal.
‘When Danielle returns home one night to find Sam gone, a series of sinister events begins to unfold. But strange things often occur at Hotel Beresford, and many are only a distraction to hide something much darker…’
Before The Beresford – the innocuous-looking boarding house with the extraordinarily high mortality and quick turnaround rates – there was Hotel Beresford.
Owned by a representative of the Devil himself, staffed by people who have traded their souls for the purest of reasons, and patronised by both the best and worst of humanity, Hotel Beresford is just as deadly as its counterpart-to-be.
The Beresford was an excellent entry point into Will Carver’s unique and innovative writing for me a couple of years ago, so I was thrilled to return to the scene of the crime(s) with Upstairs at the Bereford.
I really liked how this book expands on, and adds to, the compelling lore and logic of its predecessor. As well as fleshing out the backstory of the boarding house’s deceptively doddery landlady Mrs May, Carver expands upon a story alluded to in the previous book, of a couple who fell to their deaths.
Like the transient occupants of The Beresford, Hotel Beresford’s various guests are vividly and memorably drawn, right down to those whose stays are the shortest. Carver really knows how to make human misery highly readable!
The story is interspersed with the author’s trademark musings on the nature of good and evil, modern life and theology, and these also find personification (for want of a better word) in the complex character of Mr Balliol.
Mr Balliol may be a delegate of evil, but Carver invites you to ponder whether he – and, by extension, the entity he represents – can truly be described as “pure” evil.
Mr Balliol generally shows mercy to the “good” characters and reserves torture and punishment for the more objectionable ones, manipulates events, and occasionally messes with or kills a “good” character for no apparent reason – a bit like God (or a bored The Sims player), really.
Unlike God as traditionally portrayed, though, he draws the line at harming children, ensures those who enter into deals with him are fully apprised of what they’re signing up for, upholds his side of the bargain, and is unsanctimonious and without pretense. Oh, and he’s an committed patron of the arts, too.
As with Mrs May in The Beresford, there’s humour in the way the hotel’s staff, particularly manager Carol, security guard Ollie, and maid Arbi, don’t bat an eyelid when it comes to moving dead bodies or messing with guests’ minds at Mr Balliol’s request. Decent, sympathetic characters they may be, but they knew what they were agreeing to, and you can get used to anything.
Upstairs at the Beresford is an imaginative and fascinating expansion of the Carververse.