“Dakota Crow has been murdered, her body dumped in a lonely part of the woods, and nobody knows but her and her killer.
Stranded in Purgatory, a rotting hotel on the edge of forever, with no memory of her death, Dakota knows she must have done something bad to be stranded among murderers and rapists. To get to somewhere safer, she must hide from the shadowy stranger stalking her through the corridors of the hotel, and find out how to repent for her sins.
But first she must re-live her life.
Soon she will learn about her double life, a damaging love affair, terrible secrets, and lies that led to her violent death.
Dakota must face her own demons, and make amends for her own crimes before she can solve her murder and move on.
But when she finds out what she did wrong, will she be truly sorry?”
Having been offered the chance to review this book, I decided it would be a good one to read around this time of year when we are all looking for something spooky or scary to get our pulses racing as the nights draw in and, having read it, I can confirm it will definitely do that, but it also offers so much more than simple scares.
This is an intelligent book, which explores a lot of fairly existential questions in a really innovative storyline and I was very drawn in to the story and the questions raised, to the extent that I am still thinking about some of them today. The story is quite disturbing, as you would expect from the cover image and the blurb, and it does not pull back from giving you uncomfortable and graphic detail, but it is not sensationalist for the sake of it. There is a point to everything in the story, and a very provocative and inciting point which I really enjoyed about the book.
The setting is a hotel in the Afterlife where people who have done bad things in their life on Earth are stranded, trying to work out what they did wrong and how to atone for their crimes so they can get to Heaven, so this place is full of the worst people who lived on Earth and many of them are really not interested in atoning at all. Dakota is stranded amongst these terrifying people, unaware of what has happened to her and desperate to find out what happened so she can get out. But sometimes the truth hurts.
The author manages to build a very disturbing and sinister world in this hotel that will work its way under your skin and into your subconscious and give you the creeps. I was reminded strongly of the Hotel Cortez in Season 5 of American Horror Story. But more than that, the process that Dakota has to go through after death was ever more chilling and raised the hairs on the back of my neck as I read this under the covers.
One minor issue I had was that the book possibly started to drag in places three-quarters of the way in when I would have liked more drama and less of the reading, and I think the author could have gone even further with some of the interactions with the other patrons of the hotel, to really bring the horror of this place to life. I also felt that the storyline regarding Danny was slightly too much of a coincidence and could have been omitted without affecting the book at all. However, this did not really detract from the overall power of the book for me and I was gripped from start to finish.
The author was very skilled in her use of imagery and language to bring this original world to frightful life and the characters were really well-developed and authentic, despite being deeply flawed. I really believed in them, even though they were in a largely fantastical environment. The story development is skilful and the overall book works really well. I can highly recommend it. It would particularly appeal to fans of Stephen King, I think; someone who is looking for a horror story with a little bit more to it.
Purgatory Hotel is out now. To get it in time for Halloween, order it here.
About the Author
On a warm day in July 1978, a mother was admitted to hospital, awaiting the arrival of her new baby. She was reading Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie and the midwives thought it a gruesome choice for an expectant mother. A story of a long forgotten murder and repressed memories. As it turned out her new baby, Anne-Marie would grow up and find herself drawn to all things macabre, and would one day herself turn out a story of murder and memories lost.
Anne Marie grew up on the Essex coast with her parents and six siblings in a house that was full of books and movies and set the scene for her lifelong love of both.
She began writing short stories when she was still at primary school after reading the book The October Country by Ray Bradbury. He was and still is her favourite author and the reason she decided at age 9 that she too would be a writer someday.
In her teens she continued to write short stories and branched out into poetry, publishing a few in her late teens. In her early twenties she began committing herself to writing a novel and wrote one by the age of 20 that she then put away, fearing it was too weird for publication.
She wrote Purgatory Hotel over several years, but again kept it aside after several rejections from publishers. Luckily for her, she found a home for her twisted tale with Crooked Cat Books.
Her favourite authors include Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Stephen King, Denis Lehane and Douglas Coupland. She also takes great inspiration from music and movies, her favourite artists being Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Johnny Cash, Interpol, David Lynch and David Fincher.
Anne-Marie moved to London in 2008 where she lives to this day, amidst books and DVDs, with her husband and daughter.
Connect with Anne-Marie:
Facebook: Anne-Marie Ormsby
Goodreads: Anne-Marie Ormsby