Friday, 8 June 2018

ReadItDaddy's Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 8th June 2018: "The Last Chance Hotel" by Nicki Thornton (Chicken House Books)

Our Chapter Book of the Week this week once again proves that Chicken House Books have a superb eye for amazing writing talent, and once again they grace our Book of the Week slot with a fabulous debut from an author who lives just around the corner from ReadItDaddy Towers!

Nicki Thornton ought to know her stuff, having successfully co-run our favourite local indie bookstore "Mostly Books" for a number of years.

Now she's turning her expert eye for fabulous stories to actually writing them herself, cooking up "The Last Chance Hotel" - a superbly spooky story that had C, her mum and I gripped from page 1. I'm turning over the review to Mum and C to give you their thoughts on this book (and hopefully I'll get to read it in more depth once they've finished as they're not even letting me get a look in!)

The story introduces Seth, a lowly kitchen boy who works at the titular hotel itself. Put-upon as the lowest of the low by just about everyone else working there, Seth's life isn't exactly a laugh-a-minute.

The hotel is run by the villainous Bunn family who think nothing of mistreating Seth.

Thankfully he does at least have one friend, a black cat called Nightshade who is his constant companion.

Seth's life changes completely when a delegation of magicians arrive at the hotel for dinner, kicking off a mystery surrounding a poisoning, an impossible murder and a lot of finger pointing - unfortunately in Seth's direction!

Just as everyone is eating dessert the VIP guest dies. All eyes are turned on Seth, as he made a very special dessert just for the VIP guest. Seth knows he is innocent but needs to prove it. But how can he.

Can Seth somehow solve the mystery and clear his name?

We were very excited when this landed on our doorstep. We have known Nicki (and husband Mark) Thornton from Mostly Books (our fantastic indie bookshop in Abingdon now run by equally fantastic folk who are carrying on its good name).

The Last Chance Hotel is told from Seth's point of view as the lowly kitchen hand (or 'Saucepan Scrubber' in the eyes of Tiffany Bunn, the annoying daughter of the hotel owners).

Seth is such a likable character and we loved Nicki's inventive and amazing names such as Professor Papperspook and Gloria Troutbean (we are wondering which visitors to Mostly Books these people are based on), and the fancy food Seth has had to cook for the amazing dinner.

C is really enjoying how the murder mystery is told from the point of view of the accused which is a neat and original twist. Each chapter finishes brillantly and each night C begs mummy to continue reading just a little bit more.

We also really liked the fact that independent bookshops get their own special yellow-tinted versions of the book to sell - a rather nice touch that.

"The Last Chance Hotel" by Nicki Thornton is out now, published by Chicken House Books (kindly supplied for review).