Tuesday, November 09, 2021


Alexander, K.R. Vacancy
November 2nd 2021 by Scholastic Inc. 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jasmine has moved from Florida to Gold River after the death of her mother, which is a mountainous and chillier community which is home to ski resorts. There is a very large, abandoned hotel, The Carlisle, that was the site of a horrible disaster-- one night, thirty three years ago, all of the guests but one perished. The attending physician said that they all died of fright. The hotel has been closed since, but every year, teens in town have a dare, and try to stay over night in the hotel. Jasmine is especially interested because the hotel has spoken to her in her dreams. Her friend Rohan is very interested in going, because he thinks it will stop Bradley and the school bullies from picking on them. Mira has also seen the hotel in her dreams and felt it calling to her, but she is more frightened and doesn't want to go. In the end, all three decide to go and to stick together. Once there, the 8th graders are invited to a seance by an older student, and things start to go badly wrong. The Grand Dame, who has appeared in the girls' dreams, is hunting them specifically. In the past, she was a prominent member of the community, but had dealings in the spirit world that didn't end well. Now, she feels that Jasmine will help her complete her task of conquering death. Will the Grand Dame succeed, and at what cost to our protagonists?
Strengths: While I saw one of the twists coming, there was another one that I absolutely did not, so I didn't want to spoil this for anyone. It's a great creepy tale with flying silverware, killer statues, pools filling up with tarlike substance and pulling children in. There's also a bit of traditional school drama, with Bradley being a stereotypical bully who flings food at others in the cafeteria, setting the stage for the dare. The best part, however, is the creepy ending, which was chilling. Alexander's snappy, fast-paced style is a big hit with my students, and this cover is ultra creeptastic.
Weaknesses: When the Grand Dame speaks, her words are in not only cursive, but a fairly decorative form of it. Students have not been taught cursive in my district for about six years, so I will probably be asked to "translate" on more than one occasion! Not that it matters to my students, but I found the characters in this to be a little flat. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. Probably three copies, since these titles are hugely popular. I do wish that Scholastic would publish them in hardcover!

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