Author: Tamara Thorne
Date of Publication: May 9, 2019
Publisher: Glass Apple Press
Eleven-year-old Holly Tremayne has been able to see ghosts her entire life. When Holly’s mother brings her to stay with her reclusive grandmother, retired actress Delilah Devine, at the Brimstone Grand Hotel, Holly’s excited to be staying at a haunted place. But what she doesn’t realize is that the ghosts are quite aggressive, and that she is personally connected to the most dangerous ghost of all… the Brimstone Beast.
Set in the 1960s, it is clear early on that the author did her research. There are many pop culture references that make this novel authentic and compelling. Tamara Thorne’s works put a heavy emphasis on setting and atmosphere. I’ve noticed this in the other book by Tamara Thorne that I’ve read, Candle Bay, another novel about an inn where the hotel itself seems to be its own character. Brimstone Grand Hotel was originally a hospital, repurposed by Devine when she decided she wanted to run a hotel in this town. Every word that Thorne uses is carefully selected and serves a purpose, creating a sense of dread and foreboding. While reading the book, I could close my eyes and see the Brimstone Grand Hotel sitting atop a hill, overlooking the town in great detail.
Plot & Characters
The pace of this novel is slower, as a lot of emphasis is placed on building atmosphere and character development. Brimstone is written in third person, and the reader follows many different characters. This slows the pace of the book, but increases the depth of the story and the three-dimensionality of the town of Brimstone and the people in it.
Holly makes for an interesting protagonist. She actively seeks adventure. She sees ghosts, and she knows they’re ghosts, yet she’s unafraid. She’s actually eager to meet them. This is a refreshing take that sets this book apart from stories of other child mediums, where they seem to rarely know they’re talking to the dead (“That’s my best friend, Larry!”) or are desperate to avoid seeing them, like in classic movies such as “The Sixth Sense”.
While the protagonist is an eleven-year-old girl, this is not a book for children. It deals with some dark themes, including abuse and pedophilia, and is definitely intended for adult audiences. The book is chock full of ghosts, but, to me, the real horror lay in reality. Some parts of the storyline reminded me of Psycho, one of my favourite Hitchcock films, and the suspense Thorne builds definitely at times feels Hitchcockian (if that’s actually a word).
Everything that happened prior to the events in this book is gradually revealed through awakened memories and conversations between characters. We learn what we need to know as we need to know it, no sooner, which makes for a compelling read.
While the plot of the novel is slow, there is good payoff. There are a few twists that are equally disturbing and surprising, which makes up for the slower pace.
I recommend this book to those looking for an atmospheric story that puts a lot of emphasis on setting and developing characters over a fast-paced plot.
*Thank you to the publisher for the ebook for review*
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