Day 1276: The Haunted Hotel

Cover for The Haunted HotelWilkie Collins’s The Haunted Hotel was the spooky book I read for the Classics Club Dare that will also do for the R.I.P. Challenge.

* * *

His family is shocked when Lord Montbarry jilts his gentle cousin, Agnes, and marries the infamous Countess Narona. Agnes herself cannot explain the behavior of the Countess when she meets her in London. The Countess seems horror struck by Agnes and says she will be her undoing.

Lord Montbarry and his new wife go off with her brother, Baron Rivar, to live in Venice. It is not long before the family hears, first, of the disappearance of Ferrari, Lord Montbarry’s courier and the husband of Agnes’s former ladies maid, and then of Lord Montbarry’s death from bronchitis. Lord Montbarry’s fortune is entailed, but he leaves a large life insurance award to his widow. Although the insurance company conducts an investigation into the death, they can find nothing wrong.

Lord Montbarry’s younger brother, Henry Westwick, has been trying to court Agnes, but she is still in love with her former fiancé. In the meantime, he occupies himself with investments, including in the hotel that used to be the villa where his brother died. After the hotel opens, one family member after another stays there, in room 14, all having bad experiences. What happened in that hotel?

Frankly, this short novel has neither the entertaining narratives of The Moonstone nor the intriguing plot of The Woman in White. It is a potboiler, not one of Collins’s best. The hero and heroine aren’t much more than cardboard figures. The only character of interest is Countess Narona herself. The plot is predictable, the novel not scary, and the truth, although creepy, is not told to maximize the effect. On the scary scale, it gets a low mark.

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13 thoughts on “Day 1276: The Haunted Hotel

  1. Cathy746books October 23, 2018 / 1:32 pm

    Mmm. Sounds a bit disappointing. Maybe that’s why I’ve never heard of it!

    • whatmeread October 23, 2018 / 4:11 pm

      I think that’s probably true.

  2. Helen October 23, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    I read this a few years ago and I agree that it’s not as good as Collins’s longer books. My edition included some of his other short stories and novellas as well and I enjoyed some of those more than this one.

    • whatmeread October 23, 2018 / 4:12 pm

      Oh, that’s nice. I actually have his complete works in an online version, and I read this one out of order for Classics Club.

  3. FictionFan October 23, 2018 / 6:57 pm

    Hmm… I’m struggling my way through the never-ending No Name at the moment, so I’m not feeling very charitable towards Wilkie Collins. So thanks for making me feel I don’t need to add this one to the TBR! 😉

    • whatmeread October 23, 2018 / 7:09 pm

      I think I read that one a long time ago and didn’t enjoy it as much as some. Maybe there’s a reason he’s principally known for two books!

  4. Jane October 24, 2018 / 11:37 am

    It’s a great cover though!

  5. lesserknowngems May 26, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    Hi. I’ve just re-read this, not knowing what to make of it. My issue is that I don’t get why Lord Montbarry leaves Agnes for the Countess. What do you think?

    • whatmeread May 26, 2019 / 6:18 pm

      I just assumed he was in love with her and found out that was a mistake.

      • lesserknowngems June 1, 2019 / 9:31 am

        I can get that men fall in love with charming women, but still from a narrative point of view I don’t get what it means. Maybe it would have helped to see more of him in the story to get a more unbiased view of him.

      • whatmeread June 1, 2019 / 10:19 am

        I don’t think he was important to the story.

    • whatmeread May 26, 2019 / 6:19 pm

      Or maybe love is a poor way to put it . . . one of those irresistible attractions.

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