Stay tonight. Stay forever.
When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.
Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.
The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…
Welcome to the Ruby.
Sounds interesting right? It certainly did to me and I have to admit that it continued to be quite intriguing the entire read. I have to classify this as a horror ghost story since there is a bit of darkness in it. I guessed most of it, but the way the story was told and how you discovered the pieces certainly made it a fun read. 4/5 stars.
As always, spoilers behind the cut!
Obviously the Ruby has a dark sinister side to it and it is up to Audrey to discover what in the world is going on. After the matriarch of the Casella home dies in a coffee shop from a stroke the whole family is thrown into turmoil. The characters aren’t fully fleshed out in this story, but you get bits and pieces as you go along. Audrey is a high schooler who can’t figure out how to feel. She is dating a boy that she doesn’t truly love and she feels guilt about her mother dying and not even saying goodbye. Her brother, Daniel, is attractive and popular and constantly wants to be patted on the back and have his ego stroke. And their dad is just kind of a dick who is there as the person to shove them off to their grandmother’s house.
The beginning of the story takes place in the car on their way to their grandmother’s house and you can feel the tension in the car as they try not to think about their lost mother and eventually their dad decides they need to take a break and they drive to the Ruby. Once inside you meet the creepy Kenneth and he announces they can stay the night, but the boys are on one floor and Audrey is on the thirteenth (ooo, see the spookiness right there). Audrey ends up hearing music and wanders into the ballroom where a private party is being held and meets this attractive boy, Elias, and bitchy ex-girlfriend, Caroline. She is promptly removed from the party because it is invite-only. That only sets off a chain of events for Audrey to try and solve the mystery.
The middle plot of this book can be solved in that Daniel, Audrey, and their dad continue to fight and also make friends in the Ruby. They decide to extend their stay and Audrey uses that time to get a little closer to Elias. She goes on a tour of the hotel and notices strange things that continue to happen. There is a hotel help party on a rooftop and it is explained that back in the 30’s on the first anniversary of the hotel’s construction there was a party in the ballroom and a fire started. All the people at the party were locked inside and all perished and there are ghosts. This is when it gets interesting.
Major spoilers here: If you didn’t guess already, pretty much everyone is a ghost. There are regular hotel guests as well, but they can’t tell that the ghosts are there, but can kind of feel their presence. A large amount of the people were actually involved in the fire, but the Ruby also takes people who die nearby. That is how Audrey and her family end up there. On their way to grandmother’s house they got in a car accident (which I believe to be intentional) and her brother and father died instantly. Audrey is on the cusp of dying and she is given the choice right now to either walk away or stay with her family, which funnily enough is given by the invite to the party that she had so desperately wanted to go to.
So, while all this is going on she also discovers that Kenneth is a giant douche who abuses the staff. He makes one of the staff experience being burned alive in the ballroom all over again and Audrey soon realizes she’s the only one that can hurt him, so she ends up doing just that and sacrificing her second chance and decides to stay with her family at the Ruby.
I liked how the ghost mystery played out. The characters are likeable enough, but there were times when I wanted to shake Audrey. I think the romance was a little silly sometimes, but I have to admit that I’m curious for a sequel just to see how that romance winds up and if Audrey is able to handle this decision. I did not expect her to be able to discover that she was actually still alive (the scene is really interesting), so at least the author managed to keep you guessing for part of the novel. If you like a creepy book that will give you a good shiver later then pick this novel up.