Review of the Week: The Inn Between by Marina Cohen

Inn BetweenCohen, Marina. Inn Between, The. Fiction. Roaring Brook, 03/2016. 208pp. $16.99. 978-1-62672-202-6.  HIGH ADDITIONAL. GRADES 4-7.

If hell can be disguised as a dance party, purgatory can be a luxury hotel. Kara and Quinn, two 11-year-old friends on a family trip, take a detour to the Inn Between. When Kara’s parents disappear, followed by her older brother, the girls realize that these are not ordinary accommodations. Entry into another realm is further underscored with the introduction of characters named Aides and Persephone, and astute readers will quickly guess where exactly the girls have found themselves. The central plot line at the hotel is interspersed with occasional chapters in italics that tell a different story, that of the crisis which has gripped Quinn’s family for the last six months. Suspense builds as the plotlines converge. The book’s cover does not give away the darkness that the story holds. Even though the mood is by turns bright and shows a lovely portrait of two supportive tween friends, it, like Quinn’s character, is layered with currents of despair. In sum, a blend of creepy mystery and the paranormal for tweens with an added twist of the mundane ethereality similar to that found in No Passengers Beyond This Point (Choldenko, Dial, 2011). Most questions are answered by the end and while some are left hanging, there is a satisfying sense of resolution which even includes hope. Consider for readers who are not quite ready for If I Stay (Forman, Dutton, 2009). Review based on an ARC.

Emma Coleman, Berkeley PL

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