A nervous, routine-loving middle schooler finds a hotel that’s magically connected to doors all over the world.
Cam and Cass Kuhn live with Oma, their grandmother. Twelve years ago, when they were babies, their mother died and their father vanished. Cam broods over his “Worst Ways to Die” list (No. 52: a murder of grackles; No 340: flesh rot) and worries endlessly about his sister’s health. Cass has spina bifida, and Cameron is petrified that she’ll die at any moment. A chance magical encounter brings him to The Hotel Between, a hotel whose magical doors appear all over the world: in Cam’s own Dallas, in Budapest, in Dubai. Though Cam now has new, magical Worst Ways to Die on his list, he can’t ignore the strange connection between the Hotel and his long-lost father. Under the tutelage of Nico, a boy who works at the Hotel, Cam gets a probationary job at the Hotel himself. What’s the Hotel’s mysterious mission? Some notable funny touches help build a charming magical world, though the global travel tends toward the shallow and exotic. Worse, Cam’s focused on finding a magical cure for Cass even though Cass (who needs repeated rescue) doesn’t want one. Denotation of nonnormative characters—Nico has “bronze” skin, among other kids of color on staff—plus the twins’ Germanic heritage will likely lead readers to infer that Cam and Cass are likely white.
A charming adventure marred by its overwhelmingly paternalistic attitude to a disabled character. (Fantasy. 10-12)