From Goodreads: Stay tonight. Stay forever.
When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.
Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.
The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…
Welcome to the Ruby.
After Audrey’s mother dies suddenly, her family life spirals out of control. While she’s acting out, her father is closing himself off. After a wild party where Audrey loses control, her father decides to send her and her older brother Daniel to live with her grandmother. But first they stop at Hotel Ruby for the night. The hotel may be out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s far from boring. A one night stay turns into days as Audrey and her family get caught up in the hotel life and all it has to offer, including love. Maybe staying at Hotel Ruby wouldn’t be such a bad thing. After all, the motto there is Stay tonight. Stay Forever.
Hotel Ruby? Or Hotel California?
I’m far from alone in seeing a connection. Nearly every one of the Goodreads reviews I read mentioned the same thing. It’s hard to ignore. Especially when my long-standing interpretation of the lyrics of Hotel California is literally the plot of Hotel Ruby. (Apparently, according to Wikipedia, my interpretation is not even close to being right. But I guess it makes for a good story anyway.)
Raychelle, my coworker, had talked about starting a book club for awhile. While we were getting everything set up and worked out, we decided to pick our first official book to read for October. We wanted something Halloweenish and spooky, so we went with Hotel Ruby. I think I may have been the only one who actually read it (we’re still working out the book club kinks..) and my final conclusion? Eh.
It had its strengths. But it had a lot of weaknesses too. I enjoyed the creepy vibe of the hotel and the concept of the story. When it the story was moving, it was good. But unfortunately, it didn’t move much. For most of the book, I was bored. There was so much insta-love, which I’m not big on. They were in the hotel for only a matter of days, but Audrey is already head over heels for Elias, wanting to be with him and all over him, asking him to run away with her. Honey… Seriously. What do you know about him? Ab. So. Lute. Ly. Nothing. Other than he looks good in a suit. And the insta-love isn’t just restricted to Audrey. Even her brother Daniel falls madly in love with Catherine after 1 night. I just can’t.
But like I said– when the story was moving, it was good. When the hotel began to show it’s true nature: Yes! This is the story I came for! This is the creepiness I signed up for! This is what I wanted out of this book! But that part of it didn’t show up until very late. And by that time, I had already figured out what was going on, so there wasn’t a lot of surprise. I already had a bunch of theories on major plot lines before I had even made it 100 pages in. All but 1 ended up correct. So much for mystery and intrigue.
Stuff I pretty much figured out very early on:
- Why they were all in the hotel
- Why Audrey was on her own floor that no one else was on and why she’s the only one not invited to the party
- Why Elias had to go to the fancy party every night
- The previous relationship between Elias and Catherine
- Why Elias and Catherine broke up
- Who was responsible for what happened in the old ballroom
Only one of my theories ended up being wrong. And I’m not usually that insightful with mysteries. Which makes me feel like it might have been a bit too predictable. In that case, tell me straight out what the truth is from the get go and get on with the action! Cause that’s where the story’s strength is.
All in all, it was just okay. I’m glad I read it, but it wasn’t quite up to the spooky Halloween vibe I was hoping for.
Because of some language and sexual references, I’d recommend this for high school age.
And because I can’t leave without telling you my theories and which ones I got right, plus my theory on the whole Hotel California thing, I’m putting them at the bottom of the page. Read at your own risk because SPOILERS.
Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young
Format: Hardcover and Paperback (Printed as Hotel for the Lost) | Price: $17.99/$10.99
ISBN: 9781481423007| 9781481423014
Buy your copy (Hardcover edition): Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Nook, Kindle, Audible
(Warning– There will be spoilers below.)
Seriously. Not kidding about the spoilers.
Alright. You’ve been warned.
So about those theories– let’s see.
- Why they were all in the hotel:
- My theory: They were in a car accident. Audrey doesn’t remember it because she was asleep when it happened. So she wakes up thinking they’ve just stopped at an actual hotel for the night.
- Actual plot: I was pretty spot on.
- Why Audrey was on her own floor that no one else was on and why she’s the only one not invited to the party:
- My theory: She’s not actually dead. She’s in limbo. Her brother and her father have passed on, which is why they are on the lower floors and why they receive their invitations to the party right away, while she is denied. It is also why the clerk typing away on the computer in the check-in scene completely ignores them. He doesn’t see them because he’s part of the mortal realm and they’re not. That’s also why he disappears as Kenneth comes to check them in.
- Actual plot: Yep. Got that one too.
- Why Elias had to go to the fancy party every night:
- My theory: Elias dodges the question of why he has to attend the party, stating that it’s family obligation since he is one of the decedents of the original hotel guests, but many references are made to the party being for him. It is actually a party in his honor that was thrown the night of the fire that he is doomed to repeat because he died in the fire and now he’s a ghost.
- Actual plot: Once again. Hey I’m pretty good at this.
- The previous relationship between Elias and Catherine:
- My theory: So many references to the long history between them. They were more than just boyfriend and girlfriend. They were engaged to be married.
- Actual plot: DAMN I’M GOOD.
- Why Elias and Catherine broke up:
- My theory: Elias makes a reference about infidelity and the pain and heartbreak it causes. He says that he is no longer in love with Catherine even though she says she will always love him. Catherine must have cheated on him.
- Actual plot: Alright that’s it. I’m buying a lottery ticket and taking my life savings to Vegas. LET’S DO THIS.
- Who was responsible for what happened in the old ballroom:
- My theory: Someone closes the door behind them, locking the rest of the guests inside when the fire starts, dooming them to their fate. My guess was Catherine because she knew her relationship with Elias was over, and she wasn’t going to let it end, so she purposely sets the fire.
- Actual plot: My one and only wrong. It’s not Catherine. It’s Lourdes, and it’s completely an accident.
And in case you’re curious at all, my interpretation of Hotel California has always been this– dude’s driving along ‘a dark desert highway.’ He sees a ‘shimmering light’ in the distance. The lyrics say his ‘head grew heavy’ and his ‘sight grew dim’, meaning he falls asleep at the wheel and drives into an oncoming car, dying in the accident. His stop for “the night” is Hotel California– which the lyrics say could be Heaven or Hell. Or maybe it’s something in between– like the spirit realm and all the occupants are ghosts. Which is why you’ll always find it there, no matter what time of year. Hotel California is ‘programmed to receive’, and once you check in, you can never leave. When you die, you end up there, and you don’t cross back over to the mortal realm. So night after night after night, the guests are ‘living it up at the Hotel California’ dancing, drinking, feasting. For all of eternity.