Our narrator, Jon Keller, an American academic, is attending a conference in Switzerland. There was previously a change of hotel and he ends up staying at L’Hotel Sixieme, a large, remote hotel surrounded by forest.
Whilst having breakfast a fellow guest shrieks after seeing something on her phone. ‘They’ve bombed Washington!’ Jon frantically starts scrolling through news items on his phone. It’s true! Washington, London, Berlin. Nuclear explosions!
Many guest flee immediately, heading for airports trying to get home to family and friends, but Jon decides to stay, feeling it’s safer to await rescue.
A week later he’s still there….
‘This is the third day and the internet is down. I’ve been sitting in my hotel room watching what I can see of the horizon from my window. If anything happens, I’ll do my best to describe it…… I can’t believe I didn’t reply to Nadia’s text. I can’t believe I thought I had time……
Told in diary format Jon decides to keep notes on each day. He’s used to records, to documenting life so this is what feels like the natural thing to do, a comfort, and if anyone ever finds it they will at least know what happened to everyone left at L’Hotel Sixiene.
They story introduces us to the remaining guest, now 20 in total, and explores how characters have established, or not, roles they can play within the group. On day 50 they notice the water has turned cloudy and tastes a little off, so Jon and 2 others head to the roof to inspect the massive water tanks. In one of them they find the body of a young girl, clearly no accident, and dead before the explosions started. Most show little concern. Why bother given the circumstances. But Jon is determined to find out what happened to her and if the killer is still here in the hotel!
I loved the opening chapter. How the author sets the ‘end of the world’ on such an ordinary morning, and it is details like this that make the story so believable. This is primarily a character driven book and explores how each one reacts in this extreme situation. Who is useful? Who can be trusted? Blended in with the mystery of the girls death, the remoteness of the hotel with everyone trapped inside it makes for an extremely claustrophobic, chilling read. I particularly enjoyed the parts where they began to realise that they would have to venture outside. The description of the weather and vegetation effected by the poisoned atmosphere and the amazingly terrifying bits were they fear if and whom they may meet outside.
This genre was a departure from the norm for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I received a digital copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and would like to thank Emily Burns for the invite onto the blog tour.