The Last Chance Hotel, by Nicki Thornton. When a book is described as ‘Harry Potter Meets Agatha Christie’ I must admit it immediately makes me want to avoid it. In fact, I only read this because I felt sorry that the author, after all her hard work, had been saddled with such a banal advertising strap line. (Note to publishers – resist the temptation to try and make money by comparing any book with Harry Potter).
And I’m so glad I did (read it, I mean). This serves up a starter of Masterchef, a main course of magic and a dessert of murder mystery. Seth is the kitchen boy with ambitions to be a chef. He is also an orphan, taken in and exploited by the Bunn family in their hotel (I must admit there are echoes of early Harry Potter here). It isn’t called the Last Chance Hotel for nothing – but I’ll leave you to find out why – and Seth works for the chef Henri. His only friend and companion is a black cat called Nightshade. This sets the scene for the main action.
A strange gathering of magical and mystical people takes place at the hotel. I really liked the descriptions: the eeriness of the hotel is enhanced by characters that are interesting and unusual. They all come for dinner, but one, Dr Thallomius, is poisoned. Spoiler alert! I can’t tell you how this happens without ruining some of the surprise, but Seth is the main suspect because of his culinary skills. He has to prove his innocence – a job made all the harder by the Bunn family and the powers of dark magic...
This is a great read for both boys and girls of 10+. Recommended reading for après ski. We give this a Yellowbird rating of 5 Yellowbirds out of 5: