The Paradox Hotel
By Rob Hart
Pub date: 22-Feb-2022
AMBER LOVE 05-FEB-2022 This review is a courtesy provided by NetGalley. To support this site and my other work, please consider being a monthly donor at Patreon.com/amberunmasked; you can also buy my books through Amazon (or ask your local retailer to order you copies). I’ve also curated lists of books and other things I like on Amazon so you can shop through my lists of recommended products.
An impossible crime. A detective on the edge of madness. The future of time travel at stake. From the author of The Warehouse . . .
January Cole’s job just got a whole lot harder.
Not that running security at the Paradox was ever really easy. Nothing’s simple at a hotel where the ultra-wealthy tourists arrive costumed for a dozen different time periods, all eagerly waiting to catch their “flights” to the past.
Or where proximity to the timeport makes the clocks run backward on occasion—and, rumor has it, allows ghosts to stroll the halls.
None of that compares to the corpse in room 526. The one that seems to be both there and not there. The one that somehow only January can see.
On top of that, some very important new guests have just checked in. Because the U.S. government is about to privatize time-travel technology—and the world’s most powerful people are on hand to stake their claims.
January is sure the timing isn’t a coincidence. Neither are those “accidents” that start stalking their bidders.
There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. A reason why she’s the only one who can catch a killer who’s operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once.
But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and as her past, present, and future collide, she finds herself confronting not just the hotel’s dark secrets but her own.
At once a dazzlingly time-twisting murder mystery and a story about grief, memory, and what it means to—literally—come face-to-face with our ghosts, The Paradox Hotel is another unforgettable speculative thrill ride from acclaimed author Rob Hart.
Keep in mind, my gifs are unrelated but fun things I thought about when reading the book. I rarely ding a book down a star just because I didn’t love it. There’s an audience for every book and sometimes I’m not it. Given how much I absolutely loved The Warehouse by Rob Hart, I thought I would the same about The Paradox Hotel. I liked it, but didn’t love it. There’s also a perhaps unfair thing that happens in marketing: after a super performing piece with tons of praise, a lot of hype goes into the next project hoping it’s even better.
I loved certain things about The Paradox Hotel, in particular the main character January and her ghostly girlfriend Mena. They’re opposites in personality and in tangibility. Mena is stuck in a forever plane of afterlife and chooses to hang out the hotel where she worked, loved January, and lost her life. January is gruff, trusts no one, always angry, kick-ass, and also “Unstuck” in time. Due to her job as a security officer for the TEA (time police), she’s traveled through the timelines so much that she is mentally compromised, a condition with various degrees of extremity called Unstuck. January, Mena, and a secondary character Myabe the chef (which my brain always read as “maybe” but I know it’s wrong) are the beautifully intricate characters of Paradox that made this book special. Oh, there is one more lovable character, the AI companion Ruby who is always at January’s side. If you find strong connections to the droids in Star Wars, Ruby will feel familiar.
Where I had comprehension trouble was following the huge cast of characters mostly. There are four trillionaires who are bidding on the hotel; a corrupt senator; entourages everywhere; hotel workers, bosses, and a ton of visitors; plus three adorable though vicious dinosaurs – well they start out adorable and grow up fast.
January’s condition of being Unstuck and the actual timeline crumbling made for some clunky adjustments too. There’s a room where she finds a dead body. Only she can see it. Not even Ruby detects its presence. But they saw the person alive at one point so they know he is/was in the hotel. The mystery of finding out who he is and why he’s dead is more like a B plot rather than the main plot as the summary describes.
In my reading experience of Paradox, the main plot is January coming to terms with Mena’s death and her evolution from a bitter, angry soul to a person who learns a lot of Mena’s Buddhist lessons on compassion, forgiveness, kindness, and the afterlife. In that regard, this felt like two completely different books which also explains why it felt so long.
I had the same reading experience when I tackled Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers which I loved, but had multiple stories that could have been separated into related books, or as I said in that review, ditched completely (I dread that sequel which has been announced.) Some readers are pulled in by those epics whereas, I’m more of a series with short installments type of reader (hence my love of cozy mysteries).
Rating: I give it 4.5 stars of 5 but some systems don’t allow for halves so it’ll look like 4 or 5.