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The Haunted Hotel: A Mystery of Modern Venice

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Is there no explanation of the mystery of The Haunted Hotel? Is The Haunted Hotel the tale of a haunting -- or the tale of a crime? The ghost of Lord Montberry haunts the Palace Hotel in Venice --- or does it? Montberry's beautiful-yet-terrifying wife, the Countess Narona, and her erstwhile brother are the center of the terror that fills the Palace Hotel. Are their malefac Is there no explanation of the mystery of The Haunted Hotel? Is The Haunted Hotel the tale of a haunting -- or the tale of a crime? The ghost of Lord Montberry haunts the Palace Hotel in Venice --- or does it? Montberry's beautiful-yet-terrifying wife, the Countess Narona, and her erstwhile brother are the center of the terror that fills the Palace Hotel. Are their malefactions at the root of the haunting -- or is there something darker, something much more unknowable at work? (Jacketless library hardcover.)


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Is there no explanation of the mystery of The Haunted Hotel? Is The Haunted Hotel the tale of a haunting -- or the tale of a crime? The ghost of Lord Montberry haunts the Palace Hotel in Venice --- or does it? Montberry's beautiful-yet-terrifying wife, the Countess Narona, and her erstwhile brother are the center of the terror that fills the Palace Hotel. Are their malefac Is there no explanation of the mystery of The Haunted Hotel? Is The Haunted Hotel the tale of a haunting -- or the tale of a crime? The ghost of Lord Montberry haunts the Palace Hotel in Venice --- or does it? Montberry's beautiful-yet-terrifying wife, the Countess Narona, and her erstwhile brother are the center of the terror that fills the Palace Hotel. Are their malefactions at the root of the haunting -- or is there something darker, something much more unknowable at work? (Jacketless library hardcover.)

30 review for The Haunted Hotel: A Mystery of Modern Venice

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    Intriguing opening chapters (view spoiler)[this is how much: I downloaded the Serial Reader app and liked the first chapter so much I couldn't wait for the rest, so I downloaded the free Kindle copy (hide spoiler)] dreadfully dull middle, and suspenseful and exciting horror towards the end. In some ways the writing feels very dated, in others, it still manages to shock and titillate. I really like Serial Reader, though! It's a new free app that delivers a new "issue," or section of a classic, to Intriguing opening chapters (view spoiler)[this is how much: I downloaded the Serial Reader app and liked the first chapter so much I couldn't wait for the rest, so I downloaded the free Kindle copy (hide spoiler)] dreadfully dull middle, and suspenseful and exciting horror towards the end. In some ways the writing feels very dated, in others, it still manages to shock and titillate. I really like Serial Reader, though! It's a new free app that delivers a new "issue," or section of a classic, to your phone every day, with the idea that it allows you to read books in short increments of no more than 20 minutes. Clean, pleasurable interface and reading experience, and it definitely makes tackling old classics you've been meaning to read feel less daunting and more manageable. Small selection so far, but they've just gotten started. I downloaded the app because I posted a photo of A Tale of Two Cities to Litsy, and a couple of people told me they were reading it via SR. I love the idea of people doing that, since Dickens (and Wilkie Collins too) was so well known for having stories published via serials in newspapers. It's a modern day Victorian reading app!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amy | shoutame

    This is my third Wilkie Collins novel and I loved it just as much as the other two. We follow the story of a family who have been told of their relative's death whilst on his honeymoon in Italy. None of them want to believe the letters confirming his death and they all begin to feel rather suspicious of his new wife; especially as rumours are spread around London regarding her past. They decide to set out to Italy themselves to uncover the mystery behind his death. On reaching the hotel each fami This is my third Wilkie Collins novel and I loved it just as much as the other two. We follow the story of a family who have been told of their relative's death whilst on his honeymoon in Italy. None of them want to believe the letters confirming his death and they all begin to feel rather suspicious of his new wife; especially as rumours are spread around London regarding her past. They decide to set out to Italy themselves to uncover the mystery behind his death. On reaching the hotel each family member experiences something of the paranormal and they begin to question whether their relative really died in the innocent ways that have been described to them - the mystery deepens. What happened to their relative in the hotel? What will they uncover whilst sleeping under the roof where he died? A brilliantly written and enjoyable read! I would highly recommend Collins to any lover of Agatha Christie!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krystal

    Ehhhhhhhhh not sure about this one! Very slow on the suspense and intrigue and creepiness, but I was definitely suckered in by the foreshadowing. Absolutely fascinating characters, and I quite enjoyed the way the Countess was introduced, as it garnered instant sympathy for her and her troubled spirit. Agnes was pretty bland, considering how much hinged on her, but it was balanced by the enigmatic Henry through his devotion to her. The characters were all introduced in different contexts which reall Ehhhhhhhhh not sure about this one! Very slow on the suspense and intrigue and creepiness, but I was definitely suckered in by the foreshadowing. Absolutely fascinating characters, and I quite enjoyed the way the Countess was introduced, as it garnered instant sympathy for her and her troubled spirit. Agnes was pretty bland, considering how much hinged on her, but it was balanced by the enigmatic Henry through his devotion to her. The characters were all introduced in different contexts which really enhanced that idea that nothing was as it seemed. I liked that I questioned everyone's motives, and each different tale. It was cleverly written, that's for sure. I guess what I didn't like was that it all felt like a bit of an anti-climax to me. It's called 'The Haunted Hotel' but the hotel doesn't even exist until well over halfway through the story. The opening chapter was superb, but the rest was really dragged out. There just wasn't any horror, and aside from (view spoiler)[the missing courier (hide spoiler)] there wasn't a great deal of mystery, either. That ending though, wow! that really hooked me. (view spoiler)[I feel like maybe that terrible, decaying head might haunt my dreams a little tonight (hide spoiler)] Overall, a decent expression of atmosphere and an okay tale of intrigue. If you're looking for horror or major chills, though, I'd probably look elsewhere.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ᴥ Irena ᴥ

    3.5 The last chapters transform this story from decent to pretty good. The title promises ghosts, but the way that is handled is subtle and never in your face. The supernatural element is there, but it never gets the attention you'd expect in a story like this. I found some of the characters beyond annoying though. The Haunted House is also a murder mystery. You are left questioning what you've read in the end.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)

    I liked this story. It was multifaceted in that it was not just a haunted house story, but also a murder mystery. Collins builds the suspense and the feeling of curiosity that keeps the reader engaged. I found the writing to be far from dated. The language was not antiquated, but felt almost modern in some ways. The print for my copy is rather small, and that's the only reason I didn't read it faster. Yesterday, I kept saying, I'll read to this point, and to that point, before I knew it, it was I liked this story. It was multifaceted in that it was not just a haunted house story, but also a murder mystery. Collins builds the suspense and the feeling of curiosity that keeps the reader engaged. I found the writing to be far from dated. The language was not antiquated, but felt almost modern in some ways. The print for my copy is rather small, and that's the only reason I didn't read it faster. Yesterday, I kept saying, I'll read to this point, and to that point, before I knew it, it was quite late and I had to put the book down to go to bed. I didn't find the prose melodramatic. Instead, I found that Collins is matter of fact in describing horrors. It's merely in the reading of such things that the horror is evoked. I was quite surprised at the horrible things that had occurred, and it wasn't due to that Campy Gothic or Victorian Penny Dreadful tendency to use outlandish language to evoke a dark, sinister tone. I liked his subtle but hilarious humor, particularly in the part in which Francis Westwick goes to the room in question. I was laughing out loud on that part. The Haunted Hotel starts out in an curious manner, with a false narrator. Which is quite brilliant. This beginning narrator never makes another appearance, and I was left to wonder how this plot thread would end up in the titular place. Further reading shows Collins' tendency to continuously introduce new point of views, leaving it up to the reader to see how it ties together. As I consider this novella, I wonder if this was not his way of revealing the intriguing character of the Countess through different eyes. So one cannot easily make up their mind about her. (view spoiler)[ I have to admit that I felt sympathetic to her up to almost the end of the story. While what she does is completely heinous and terrible, I felt that her allegiance to her awful brother was no small factor in her moral failing. In the end, she seemed to merely live down to everyone's expectations of her, instead of reaching higher. Instead of staying true to what I felt was an inner cord of strength, she followed that fatal path to destruction. So I admit that in the end, I still pitied her despite her actions. I was in no small way surprised that she actually was guilty. I thought perhaps she was just a victim of a bad reputation. My feelings towards the Countess make me admire this story more for the clever way in which it was written. (hide spoiler)] Now an impatient reader will wish for Collins to get to the point, but I rather enjoyed the journey. I found the characters interesting, all of which evoking sympathy to some extent (except the Baron, who I found totally repugnant). Collins has a way of writing characters that is quite appealing to me. Even the lesser important characters come to life and earn their screen time when they come into the scenes. I enjoyed the roundabout way of presenting a story that was actually quite chilling in parts. I appreciated how intricately the mystery builds to a satisfying climax for this reader. In the end, I was impressed with this novella by Mr. Collins. I will read more of his work because I think he has a way of writing mystery and suspense that is timeless, drawing me into his writing and not easily letting me go. His characters have impact and come to life for this reader, not sacrificed to a greater goal of evoking horror or terror, as can sometimes happen in this genre. I for one recommend this story to fans of classic/gothic horror and suspense. Read out of The Haunted Hotel & Other Stories.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Richards

    Classic Wilkie Collins; thoroughly readable and enjoyable.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    The Haunted Hotel is a short ghost story/mystery concerning the death of Lord Montbarry and the strange occurrences that happen at his palace of residence in Venice which is converted into a hotel after his death. This novella skips a lot of the description and detail that is found in his longer and more famous works. Therefore, the story does seem to be rushed and summarized. However, this is good place to start if you want something a little more fast paced and want to get familiar with Collin The Haunted Hotel is a short ghost story/mystery concerning the death of Lord Montbarry and the strange occurrences that happen at his palace of residence in Venice which is converted into a hotel after his death. This novella skips a lot of the description and detail that is found in his longer and more famous works. Therefore, the story does seem to be rushed and summarized. However, this is good place to start if you want something a little more fast paced and want to get familiar with Collins’s writing style. Although it doesn’t stand up to Woman and White or the Moonstone, it was worth reading and gives some variety to Collins’ repertoire.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Really 2 and 1/2 stars. This felt more like an outline of a novel, as the characters were not well-developed nor very interesting. The two main female characters (Agnes and The Countess) were pretty annoying at times. There was a big "info dump" at the end that seemed like lazy writing on the author's part. Not as well-written as some of the author's earlier books, and not as much fun to read. Don't start with this book, if you are new to Wilkie Collins. He does write some good novels - this boo Really 2 and 1/2 stars. This felt more like an outline of a novel, as the characters were not well-developed nor very interesting. The two main female characters (Agnes and The Countess) were pretty annoying at times. There was a big "info dump" at the end that seemed like lazy writing on the author's part. Not as well-written as some of the author's earlier books, and not as much fun to read. Don't start with this book, if you are new to Wilkie Collins. He does write some good novels - this book just isn't one of them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Another Wilkie Mystery 17 August 2018 For some reason, ever since I read The Moonstone at book club I have been somewhat drawn towards works by Wilkie Collins. Maybe it has something to do with him being a lesser known 19th Century British writer, lesser known in the sense that I had never heard of him until they decided to read him. Okay, he has been credited with writing the first detective novel, the aforementioned Moonstone, but this book also seems to come across as a mystery as well. Basica Another Wilkie Mystery 17 August 2018 For some reason, ever since I read The Moonstone at book club I have been somewhat drawn towards works by Wilkie Collins. Maybe it has something to do with him being a lesser known 19th Century British writer, lesser known in the sense that I had never heard of him until they decided to read him. Okay, he has been credited with writing the first detective novel, the aforementioned Moonstone, but this book also seems to come across as a mystery as well. Basically, we have the protagonist Agnes whose fiancé basically leaves her for another woman, the Countess Narona. In fact the Countess, who basically stole Agnes’ fiancé, comes into see a doctor to confess to him, though of course the doctor really isn’t all that interested in listening to somebody’s personal problems. I would say that he isn’t that sort of doctor, but then again I suspect that since we are still at least a quarter of a century away from Sigmund Freud, I’m not entirely sure if any of those sort of doctors actually existed, or at least counselors whose job was to basically tell their client’s that everything is all right, and as long as they aren’t actually breaking the law, then screw morality, just do what feels good. Anyway, Agnes’ ex-fiancé suddenly dies of bronchitis, but for some reason the wife of one of their servants receives a thousand quid out of thin air. This sort of raises some questions, but then the insurance company gets involved, as they are prone to do whenever they are forced to pay out any money, and come to the conclusion that the death was legitimate and settled the policy (though I suspect that like most insurance companies, particularly life insurance companies, they will go to great lengths to not actually pay anything out). So, the book then jumps to Venice, because as it turns out after they had finished their honeymoon they decided to stay in Venice and buy and old, run down palace (as a house in Venice is known as). A few years later, another person purchases the palace and turns it into a hotel, however it turns out that one of the rooms is haunted (or at least believed to be because, well, us rational people really don’t believe in ghosts, do we), in the sense that the people who stay in that room end up having nightmares. Well, this book isn’t one of those Sherlock Holmes, everything has a rational explanation type of stories, though it probably isn’t as much of a mystery as those of Holmes, or more so the later detective writers where they riddled their works with clues so that the reader could attempt to work it out before the author revealed all (not that I’ve ever been all that good at that, but then again I’ve never been a huge fan of detective fiction anyway, other that Holmes of course, but that has a lot to do with him actually being a cocaine fiend that spends his spare time prize fighting and visiting brothels). The other thing is that this book really doesn’t have a big reveal, or at least a big reveal by some French detective with a ridiculously long moustache that looks so bad that it completely put me off the movie. Though we are told a few things, if only because the confession is written as a play. Actually, when the play was being explained, it sort of reminded me a lot of Hamlet, where Hamlet writes a play, or at least gets the players to perform a play, that is so similar to what he believes happened to his father, that the king has a fit and storms out of the room. Yet it makes me wonder whether such a confession would actually be accepted, you know, where the guilty person writes a story that appears to be entirely fictional, but in reality they are basically telling a story based on what they actually done. I guess it has something to do with some people really, really wanting to actually confess to their crimes. Sure, not everybody is like that, many people are so convinced that they haven’t done anything wrong that the feeling of guilt simply does not exist. Yet others get so torn with guilt that the only way that they can overcome that dreaded feeling is to actually say something. Maybe writing it out as a form of fiction is a way to confess one’s guilt without actually outright saying that they committed the crime. Then again, the Countess certainly was the type of person who suffered from guilt, particularly since at the beginning of the play she goes and sees a doctor to confess that she is in the habit of seducing other people’s partners for her own pleasure. Yet it also makes me wonder about this idea of one constantly seeking affirmation for behaving, well, like a jerk. Maybe she wanted to confess because she wanted affirmation from somebody to tell her that what she had done was right. Well, killing somebody certainly doesn’t fall into that category, at least in the case here in this book, but the whole thing of dealing with guilt is an interesting thing, particularly where you basically seek that affirmation from your friends, or simply post it on Facebook to see how many likes you happen to get.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

    Well it wasn't to bad but it wasn't good

  11. 5 out of 5

    James McCormick

    After reading Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone I was disappointed overall with the Haunted Hotel. It really isn’t in the same class. The start is gripping enough and compelling enough to keep you reading. In fact, Countess Narona (pale skinned and dark haired) who we meet from the start is probably the most interesting character in the story. I expected (and wanted) Gothic melodrama and theatrical dialogue so this in itself wasn’t a problem. Rather it seemed that as a story it just doesn’t hold tog After reading Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone I was disappointed overall with the Haunted Hotel. It really isn’t in the same class. The start is gripping enough and compelling enough to keep you reading. In fact, Countess Narona (pale skinned and dark haired) who we meet from the start is probably the most interesting character in the story. I expected (and wanted) Gothic melodrama and theatrical dialogue so this in itself wasn’t a problem. Rather it seemed that as a story it just doesn’t hold together. There are too many threads that just seem to fade away. The supernatural ending also was very plodding and apart from Countess Narona’s dark monologue failed to impress.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    This review contains a major spoiler. 3.5 stars. Published almost 20 years after The Woman in White, they were similar in certain aspects, especially switching identities of deceased people. Although entertaining, it is nowhere close to being as good as his earlier classic. But I like the writing style of Collins and I have many more of his books to look forward to.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I wanted to like this so much more than I did. On the plus side I liked most of the characters (outlines) and the story was good but we were lacking a bit of atmosphere and I didn't feel Venice at all. And there could have been more character development - I only really felt the Countess and Henry. It's worth a read but it is low on horror and is told slowly!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Isabel

    Overall, it was a bit underwhelming. I feel as if there was a rush to write this story and, because of that, a few things are a bit confusing or underdeveloped.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    Wilkie Collins, a close friend of Charles Dickens, is best known for his novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone, and The Haunted Hotel is very similar in its tone and atmosphere. The Countess Narona steals away Lord Montbarry from Abby Lockwood. Despite Abby's forgiving nature, the Countess is convinced that Abby has doomed her to a tragic ending. When Montbarry dies and his courier disappears, Montbarry's family slowly unravels the mystery that is left behind. Collins has a tendency to cons Wilkie Collins, a close friend of Charles Dickens, is best known for his novels The Woman in White and The Moonstone, and The Haunted Hotel is very similar in its tone and atmosphere. The Countess Narona steals away Lord Montbarry from Abby Lockwood. Despite Abby's forgiving nature, the Countess is convinced that Abby has doomed her to a tragic ending. When Montbarry dies and his courier disappears, Montbarry's family slowly unravels the mystery that is left behind. Collins has a tendency to constantly switch narrators, a technique that is also present here. It can be disconcerting until you meet all the characters and get a feel for each of them. He uses each narrator well, however, as each one is able to fill in parts of the story that the others are not able to. The resolution of The Haunted Hotel is particularly horrific, which is odd, given how simplistic it is compared to the many serial killer and horror novels I've read. The chills come from the total depravity and indifference that the villains exhibit towards the victims and towards each other. The Haunted Hotel is available in many editions; I recommend one that contains Collins' other (very) short stories as well.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Onaiza Khan

    It's a great story, liked it

  17. 5 out of 5

    Renee M

    Good, Ghostly, Grisly, Melodrama filled with plenty of paranormal activity, a little romance, and a ghoulishly entertaining mystery. Delightfully diverting!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Book Wyrm

    Well, this was disappointing. The gilded wallpapered parlour room drama of broken relationships and pining for cousins dragged on for an eternity, and this felt more like a murder mystery for the most part, lacking anything that suggested the book had the right to call itself 'Haunted Hotel'. All except one thing, and the book had the common sense to open with this and it tricked me into reading all of it: The Countess. She was goddamned fascinating, the best character whenever she appeared becau Well, this was disappointing. The gilded wallpapered parlour room drama of broken relationships and pining for cousins dragged on for an eternity, and this felt more like a murder mystery for the most part, lacking anything that suggested the book had the right to call itself 'Haunted Hotel'. All except one thing, and the book had the common sense to open with this and it tricked me into reading all of it: The Countess. She was goddamned fascinating, the best character whenever she appeared because she was a total enigma. Was she a villain or victim, was she wronged or a liar, does she have unusual powers or is she just a complete nutter? Her role in this otherwise tripe hack of a book was perfect, as I could never quite figure out her character, and even by the end there's still a little ambiguity on her motivations, deeds and powers. The Countess aside, this was readable but hollow, with a few smatterings of horror and spookiness thrown in near the end to justify the title, but it seemed completely out of place amongst the rest of the narrative. Unimpressed and angry to be fooled, but long live the Countess.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Franky

    As with many other Wilkie Collins novels, The Haunted Hotel has elements of fate, romance, danger, deception, murder and mystery. The story begins with Lord Montbarry breaking off his engagement to Anges Lockwood. Countess Narona, who will marry Lord Montbarry, comes to see a doctor to evaluate her sanity. The Countess seems to be under a good deal of stress about this marriage, as she was unaware Montbarry had already been engaged. There is an aura of fatalism about the Countess, as she feels a As with many other Wilkie Collins novels, The Haunted Hotel has elements of fate, romance, danger, deception, murder and mystery. The story begins with Lord Montbarry breaking off his engagement to Anges Lockwood. Countess Narona, who will marry Lord Montbarry, comes to see a doctor to evaluate her sanity. The Countess seems to be under a good deal of stress about this marriage, as she was unaware Montbarry had already been engaged. There is an aura of fatalism about the Countess, as she feels an impending sense of dread about this situation.However, the marriage goes through, and it seems that the Countess and Agnes Lockwood will cross paths several times. When a mysterious death takes place a bit later, followed by a disappearance of equal mystery, then things get more complicated. Fate seems to beckon all key characters to an ill-fated hotel with one seriously spooky room. The novel’s conclusion, where all is unraveled in the denouement, is probably the most effective part of the book and mystery to the plot. As always, Collins knows how to put everything together in amazing fashion and hold our interest by delaying major plot developments. This makes the final few chapters quite compelling, as we await the fates of key characters and the mysteries involved with the hotel. I also really enjoyed the “book within a book” approach that Collins utilizes as a key component in the mystery. Still, I think that several of Collins longer books are much more effective at creating a well-timed pacing and building the appropriate amount of suspense and tension. The pacing for The Haunted Hotel seems to be off, with long bouts of romance and trivial developments in the first half that stall the story. At these moments where we learn a bit of the background the plot moves at a plodding pace, with no sense of tension or real drive to get going anywhere. It is only when several character motives are in plain view, and when the hotel becomes the focus, that the suspense takes off and heads to a fitting conclusion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    F.R.

    The first Wilkie Collins book I read was The Woman In White, which is excellent and I would heartily recommend. Since then I have always been somewhat disappointed by him. The Moonstone - thanks to a ludicrous denoument - disappoints, while Armadle is a mess. As such I approached this short novel with a sense of mild trepidation, but this is actually a strong tale. A mysterious European countess marries an English Lord who dies shortly afterwards, the ramifications affect his entire family. Writte The first Wilkie Collins book I read was The Woman In White, which is excellent and I would heartily recommend. Since then I have always been somewhat disappointed by him. The Moonstone - thanks to a ludicrous denoument - disappoints, while Armadle is a mess. As such I approached this short novel with a sense of mild trepidation, but this is actually a strong tale. A mysterious European countess marries an English Lord who dies shortly afterwards, the ramifications affect his entire family. Written in a more straightforward style than his more famous works, Collins does succeed in maintaining the mystery and tension throughout. To be fair the supernatural elements are somewhat glossed over, but this tale of sex, guilt and murder does have more than enough grisly twists and turns.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Nice mystery, revolving around a neat twist. Collins isn't as profuse in his writing as his friend, Dickens, thankfully, and the story zips along at a fair (if occasionally improbable) pace. On the other hand, his characters aren't as vivid as Dickens' either. There's no one much who stands out in the book as a strong character, though at least the young women have some personal strength compared to the overly romanticised heroines Dickens often produced. Anyway the book isn't really about chara Nice mystery, revolving around a neat twist. Collins isn't as profuse in his writing as his friend, Dickens, thankfully, and the story zips along at a fair (if occasionally improbable) pace. On the other hand, his characters aren't as vivid as Dickens' either. There's no one much who stands out in the book as a strong character, though at least the young women have some personal strength compared to the overly romanticised heroines Dickens often produced. Anyway the book isn't really about character: people come and go and are mostly there to serve the functions of the plot. Unfortunately, another reviewer on Goodreads spoilt the surprise for me when I happened to glance at their review in which they revealed the twist. Very naughty!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Char

    This was a fun read! Written around the late 1870's, it's a mysterious tale with a hint of the supernatural. The story is woven around around both the old and the young between the cities of London and Venice. Mr. Collins keeps the pace moving by revealing small pieces of the mystery at a time and then reeling the reader in with them. I thought that this tale would lean more towards the supernatural side, but the mystery was well conceived and told and I enjoyed myself anyway. Recommended!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    This is quite weak and mediocre for Wilkie Collins, but nobody can write only masterpieces I suppose. It wasn't bad and it was generally enjoyable, although a little dragged and boring at times. It has more of that 'weekly column in a newspaper' feel than a real book (which was very likely the case of its first being published as well).

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    A Collins novel that's deservedly among his lesser-known pieces yet is still thoroughly entertaining, this combines mystery with the supernatural to generally good effect. All London is aghast when the highly eligible Herbert John Westwick, First Baron Montbarry, chooses to dump his long-time fiancee, the sweet Agnes Lockwood, and marry the Countess Narona, a continental of dubious reputation. Off the couple go on honeymoon, accompanied by Baron Rivar, supposedly her brother but, according to sca A Collins novel that's deservedly among his lesser-known pieces yet is still thoroughly entertaining, this combines mystery with the supernatural to generally good effect. All London is aghast when the highly eligible Herbert John Westwick, First Baron Montbarry, chooses to dump his long-time fiancee, the sweet Agnes Lockwood, and marry the Countess Narona, a continental of dubious reputation. Off the couple go on honeymoon, accompanied by Baron Rivar, supposedly her brother but, according to scandalized gossip, in reality her lover. By the time this odd trio settle down for a while in a crumbling palazzo in Venice, complete with an English maid and a courier, it's widely bruited that the marriage is already on the rocks thanks to the countess's presumed adultery and her husband's extreme tightfistedness. All of this we learn from the viewpoint of relatives and others back in the British Isles, notably Agnes, still steadfast in her love for Lord Montbarry, and Henry Westwick, a younger brother of Montbarry's who has for long loved Agnes unrequited. Lord Montbarry dies in the Venice palazzo, after the maid has resigned and returned to England and the courier has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The countess and her brother, having collected the insurance money, head off to the US, where he dies of a fever. The palazzo is bought by a group of investors, including young Henry Westwick, to be converted into a swanky hotel. There's a sense that everyone's picking themselves up again after a tragic digression. But then Henry spends a night at the hotel he co-owns, sleeping in the room where his brother breathed his last . . . As I say, this novel is in part a murder mystery (although there's no real detection involved) and in part a ghost story. The supernatural manifestations do help in the resolution of the riddle, so they're not just tacked on; at the same time, the tale might have been stronger had Collins written it as an unadulterated mystery. That said, he knew his readership better than I do so that's probably an asinine comment of mine. Of especial interest is the portrayal of the countess. In the opening scene she consults a London doctor, seeking some sort of release from the evil she's convinced inhabits her, and the destiny which that evil has charted out for her. (He tells her he can't help.) It's an intriguing conundrum: the sinner who seeks to rid herself of sin is surely no sinner, unless the concept of redemption is illusory. In other words, the countess is a femme fatale against her will, and, although she becomes an accomplice to crime, the blame for the tragedies that ensue from the marriage between her and Montbarry really lies at his feet, as we shall learn, rather than hers. Back when I was in my late teens and early twenties I read most of Collin's novels thanks to the efforts of the London publisher Anthony Blond, through his Doughty Press, to bring a bunch of them back into print; the excellent St. Bride's Library, near where I worked in Fleet Street, stocked not just those but a number of Collins's other works. More recently I've reread The Moonstone and The Woman in White with great enjoyment, especially the latter. I've kept meaning to read/reread more, but it's only now, with The Haunted Hotel, that I've actually gotten around to it. I was pretty certain this was one of the ones I hadn't read before; I'm now even more so. As noted, it's very decidedly a lesser work and has some highly visible flaws. Yet I found it a compelling read -- a great shocker! -- and enough fun to encourage me to dig out some more of Collins's books (thanks, Project Gutenberg!) to read in the not-too-distant future.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amle

    The Haunted Hotel is a mystery in the typical Collins style I’ve come to love, but unlike the novels I’ve read prior to this one this one was over in a flash and contains supernatural events. On a mere 200-something pages I was swept through madness, fate, coincidence, conspiracy, superstition, love, and dark secrets. Because of the uncustomary length of the novel it did not hold the same level of intrigue and intricacies, neither was the depth of the characters as profound as I have grown used t The Haunted Hotel is a mystery in the typical Collins style I’ve come to love, but unlike the novels I’ve read prior to this one this one was over in a flash and contains supernatural events. On a mere 200-something pages I was swept through madness, fate, coincidence, conspiracy, superstition, love, and dark secrets. Because of the uncustomary length of the novel it did not hold the same level of intrigue and intricacies, neither was the depth of the characters as profound as I have grown used to. I can still hear Wilkie’s special voice and I think it might be a good introduction to his writing for people who don’t want to commit to a 700-page novel without knowing what they’re in for. The story itself is focused around Agnes Lockwood, a young woman recently cast aside by her fiancé, the Lord Montbarry. The woman he left her for was none other than the captivating, and slightly frightening, Countess Narona, who causes disruption in the Lord’s family with her brother’s bad reputation, her ghostly skin, and dark eyes. The Lord and his bride travels to Venice and take up residence, far away from his disapproving family as Agnes vows to forgive and forget the newlyweds. When the news of the Lord Montbarry’s passing, and the disappearance of his courier, reaches Agnes, event after event forces her to the inevitable confrontation with the Countess. What happened all those months ago? And what is really going on at the deceased Lord's palace, that is now refurbished into the grandest hotel in Venice? As a fan of Collins, I loved this story but it was too brief to be a new favourite. I would still recommend this to anyone who likes his writing. It is a fast-read page turner with enjoyable cliff hangers, and many wonderful gothic characteristics.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dfordoom

    Published in 1878. A fascinating mix of mystery fiction and the gothic, nicely ambiguous and very atmospheric.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Yibbie

    It was okay. It’s just an overly melodramatic Victorian ghost story complete with a perfectly innocent heroine, self-sacrificing hero, and unmitigatedly evil villains, complicated setting, and gruesome conclusion. (view spoiler)[ I really thought that there was going to be some sort of naturalistic explanation for all the mysterious circumstances. I don’t like ghost stories first for religious reasons and second because I find it to be a very convenient devise when it comes to solutions. So I wa It was okay. It’s just an overly melodramatic Victorian ghost story complete with a perfectly innocent heroine, self-sacrificing hero, and unmitigatedly evil villains, complicated setting, and gruesome conclusion. (view spoiler)[ I really thought that there was going to be some sort of naturalistic explanation for all the mysterious circumstances. I don’t like ghost stories first for religious reasons and second because I find it to be a very convenient devise when it comes to solutions. So I was disappointed when there was no real solution. Not that everything was left hanging. We are eventually let in on the extremely obvious solution. But that only happens after a lot of melodramatic build up. There isn’t even a real detective even an amateur one, and our hero has to be told the obvious facts before he knows what is going on. (hide spoiler)]

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anna Baillie-Karas

    I love Wilkie Collins and escaping to the Victorian era, which has a comforting feel and formality. But this dragged and I don’t think is as strong or lively as Woman in White or Moonstone. The mystery plods along, the writing is overwrought at times and it felt contrived. I still enjoyed the tone and style of his writing but the characters didn’t come to life as they do in his other work. Good for a spooky autumn / winter read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ali

    In The Haunted Hotel – a woman visits a doctor apparently in fear that she is going mad – her story – that she is about to be married to a titled man whose family are dead set against his marriage. Infamous stories about the woman are already circulating throughout society. thehauntedhotel2For the woman the Countess Narona has supplanted another woman in the affections of her fiancé Lord Montbarry – the good gentle Agnes Lockwood – of whose very goodness the Countess seems terrified – as it high In The Haunted Hotel – a woman visits a doctor apparently in fear that she is going mad – her story – that she is about to be married to a titled man whose family are dead set against his marriage. Infamous stories about the woman are already circulating throughout society. thehauntedhotel2For the woman the Countess Narona has supplanted another woman in the affections of her fiancé Lord Montbarry – the good gentle Agnes Lockwood – of whose very goodness the Countess seems terrified – as it highlights her own guilt. Agnes Lockwood, jilted by Lord Montbarry is still friends with his family – the Westwick family who hate the very name of the Countess. The Countess and Lord Montbarry are married and spend the next few months in Venice at an old Palace, taking with a courier, the husband of a former pupil of Agnes Lockwood, a man of dubious character desperate for employment, and Baron Rivar – the former Countess’s sinister brother. Having insured his life for £10,000 – his estate is entailed – Lord Montbarry is soon dead of bronchitis – and the courier missing – a £1000 note having been sent to his wife in England anonymously. One year later – and the Palace has been converted into a hotel – one of Lord Montbarry’s brothers is an investor in the scheme. A trip to Venice is organised and several members of the deceased Lord’s family, along with Agnes (in her new role as governess to the new Lord Mountbarry’s children) find themselves at the newly converted hotel. Not at first realising where they are, three separate members of the Westwick family experience nauseating smells, insomnia and nightmares in the room where the previous Lord Montbarry died. Agnes’s experience is even more unsettling (due to some complicated room swapping). “What lurking temptations to forbidden tenderness find their finding-places in a woman’s dressing-gown, when she is alone in her room at night! Henry Westwick – who is determined to finally win the hand of the fair Agnes – is determined to get to the bottom of these disturbances – and finds himself having to consult the widow of his poor brother (back in Venice too) in order to do so. The ending of this story is a little unsatisfactory – but all in all a good read – Wilkie Collins is a good story teller if nothing else.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    This is my first Wilkie Collins book and I thought that it was very impressive. It starts off very mysteriously with Countess Narona turning up to see Doctor Wybrow convinced that she is going mad. The Countess believes this after meeting her future husband's, former fiancé Agnes Lockwood. She believes that Agnes will bring about her downfall. After reading this first chapter, I just knew that I had to carry on. I was intrigued by the Countess and wanted to know more her and Agnes. I thought th This is my first Wilkie Collins book and I thought that it was very impressive. It starts off very mysteriously with Countess Narona turning up to see Doctor Wybrow convinced that she is going mad. The Countess believes this after meeting her future husband's, former fiancé Agnes Lockwood. She believes that Agnes will bring about her downfall. After reading this first chapter, I just knew that I had to carry on. I was intrigued by the Countess and wanted to know more her and Agnes. I thought that Agnes must be a character to fear. But as the story moves to Agnes you soon learn she is a very friendly person who everybody likes. As the story goes on you learn that the Countess has married Lord Mountbarry and moved to Venice. But their marriage is only short as Lord Mountbarry dies very suddenly. Left a widow, with only her brother the Baron, people are suspicious and think they were only after the Lord's insurance money. Plus to add to the mystery another person who went with them called Ferrari has now gone missing. This is when the story really begins with many twists and turns. It showed me how good Collins is at writing a mystery. Most of the characters were interesting but the Countess was my favourite. I felt from the start, she was always hiding something never telling the whole truth. Agnes was good and I liked how she tried to be good to everyone including the Countess. But she just didn't seem to stand out next to the Countess. The Baron, was the only character I felt was disappointing. I just thought he would get better as the story went on. But he always seemed to be someone in the background. The writing in general was good, I just found there was a bit too many descriptions in places that made me lose interest a little in places. I would recommend this book to people who like a mystery.

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