Hotel on Shadow Lake Book Review3 min read

“I don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember, she told herself over and over again, like a mantra. Martha started to tremble uncontrollably. She had always known the secrets were only sleeping. Now they had finally woken up and come back to haunt her. “

Author: Daniela Tully               Published: 2018                     Pages: 291

 I received an advance proof copy of this book from Legend Press and was drawn to the synopsis as it was a murder mystery. There are two main narratives throughout, one from Martha, a girl in 1938 Nazi Germany who is desperate to escape her deluded friends and family who so blindly follow Hitler. And Maya, a German girl who, when she discovers her missing Grandmother died over 25 years ago in a landslide in America, is determined to find answers. Tully intertwines their stories and uses their narratives to piece together an 80 year old mystery.

I liked that there were two different narratives in the novel, although I thought it would have been better if there hadn’t been such long gaps between them. I found myself forgetting details of what had happened to one of the girls because I had been reading about the other for so long. Personally I think if the sections were broken up and interspersed between each other a bit more, this would have helped the narrative a lot. It took too long for a connection to be made between the narratives, and if I’m honest, I got a little bored. As it’s a mystery I wanted it to be fast paced and tense, something I think it only achieved towards the end.

Martha was probably my favourite of the two; she was strong minded, a bibliophile (like me) and determined. Maya was also determined but I found that her decisions were made with flawed justifications so I just could never warm to her in the same way I warmed to Martha. I also liked Martha’s relationship with her twin brother Wolfgang, he was easy to hate as a Hitler fanatic, so it was nice to see how they differed from one another. On the other hand, in the present day, as Maya is trying to work out how her grandmother died, we are told the family history of the hotel where her remains were found. This interesting story of the Montgomery’s was definitely intriguing and I was itching to know how everything connected.

I liked that Martha’s storyline was right at the centre of the Nazi regime. It made her narrative more tense but also added an enjoyable depth because it was hard to know if she could trust the people around her. I also liked how the mystery was solved. The book definitely became more un-put-down-able after a certain point, about 3/4 of the way through, and once that happened I was very happy to keep turning the page.

Overall I did enjoy this book but I felt that it got a little messy in places because I was trying to keep up with so many storylines. Tully is successful however in creating characters with depth, an intricate storyline and a mystery with a heart-warming, if tragic, conclusion. More than this though she reminds us again that war tears so many people apart and decades later we are still feeling its ricochets.

Thank you to Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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