There’s a huge bargain book shop not far from my house where my dad and I sometimes go to spend a Saturday morning thumbing through the racks. Books are literally stacked to the ceiling and there’s not much organization, but you can pick up hardbacks for $2.00, and it’s fun just to see what’s there. The Hotel Under the Sand had been tossed on a shelf amidst a bunch of nature books and non-fiction, but the title caught my eye. I’d never heard of Kage Baker before, but the little note under the title from Publisher’s Weekly claiming she’s ‘the most accomplished fantasists of our era,’ intrigued me. What was this doing in the nature aisle? The book was $0.50, so there wasn’t much to lose.
And I was not disappointed. This is an adorable little middle-grade novel about a girl named Emma who gets stranded on a strange island known only as “The Dunes,” and has to figure out how to survive alone on an island where there’s nothing but sand, wind, and seashells. But as she’s setting up her camp out of the wreckage of other boats, she meets a very polite ghost named Winston, who tells her about a magical resort hotel that had been built in the Dunes and got buried under the sand during a terrible storm. He worked in the hotel and didn’t know how, but he was still hanging around, waiting to be needed by someone.
During a vicious storm on Emma’s second night camping out, what should become unearthed, but the grand hotel of Winston’s stories. Emma and Winston investigate, finding the hotel totally intact due to its magical, time bending properties, and decide they are going to get the resort up and running again. With fun characters, a fantastic Victorian backstory, and the mysteries of the strange Wenlocke family, this little book is a delight. And since it’s about a resort, in the sand, and people vacationing, this is the perfect summery read while vacationing. I highly recommend it as a summer read for both children and adults, alike.
Bingo Square: Summer Read