Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Extended Stay, by Juan Martinez: Horror Hotel

In Juan Martinez's debut novel, Extended Stay, an opening scene of unimaginable real-world horror leads into a screamingly terrifying novel of equally unimaginable supernatural horror. 

An old Vegas hotel, the Alicia, which makes the Overlook Hotel look about as scary as a Ritz-Carlton, is the site of this horror parable about the immigrant experience and immigrants' "function" in a exploitive capitalistic society.

"Because we were never people. We were fodder," ponders our protagonist Alvaro, a Columbian immigrant who comes to Vegas with his younger sister after witnessing the gruesome murder of the rest of his family.

Alvaro works in the kitchen at the Alicia, and quickly becomes a favorite of the hotel's manager, who offers to let him and his sister live at the Alicia for free. It's too good an opportunity to pass up -- free rent! -- even as Alvaro begins to notice some really strange things about the hotel. 

After Alvaro and Carmen move in, things get progressively weirder, and infinitely more terrifying. Time skips. Moldy walls bleed insects. People disappear. Corridors expand beyond all physical limits. And then...Alvaro finds something called the Nightmare Room. Terrifying. The Alicia is alive, and it wants something from Alvaro. But what? 

I don't much read horror -- I'm not particularly squeamish (but this truly isn't for the faint of heart), it's just not my first-choice of genre -- but I couldn't look away from this. If you're looking for something to disturb you out of your winter doldrums, this is it. 

A final fun note: I went to Juan's book launch party last night at Women & Children First here in Chicago. Here are a couple photos from a terrific event (Juan was in conversation with writer Lindsay Hunter).

No comments:

Post a Comment