In November 1982, a horrible event occurs at the Bellweather Hotel. A murder-suicide, witnessed by a young bridesmaid, Minnie Graves, leaves its imprint on both her and the hotel.
Fifteen years later, the hotel is gearing up for the Statewide Festival, where hundreds of high school musicians come for a weekend of study and performance. Among them are Alice Hatmaker and her twin brother Rabbit (real name Bert). Both are battling with the usual issues of growing up and possibly apart, and when Alice’s roommate disappears from the infamous murder-suicide room, they join an eccentric cast of characters trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. This includes Minnie, who has returned to the scene of the crime to slay her demons. A giant snowstorm is looming, about to cut them off from the rest of the world, can they find out the truth before someone else dies?
This is an odd one in that it refuses to fit nicely into one genre. It’s kind of YA, in that two of its main characters are teenagers, initially self absorbed but by the end maturing somewhat. It’s a murder mystery/who dunnit as they try to discover what happened to Alice’s roommate, and there are aspects of horror and ghost stories thrown in for good measure. Which shouldn’t work at all but it does! Racculia binds all these elements together effortlessly, keeping the tone mostly light but also having enough darkness to be unnerving at times. Plus she makes you feel invested in the many characters in play here. It’s a really well written and entertaining book, and I’m kind of annoyed at myself that I’ve let it sit on my shelves for so long.