A Castle in the Clouds follows a girl as she navigates secrets, romance, and danger in an aging grand hotel.
Way up in the Swiss mountains, there’s an old grand hotel steeped in tradition and faded splendor. Once a year, when the famous New Year’s Eve Ball takes place and guests from all over the world arrive, excitement returns to the vast hallways.
Sophie, who works at the hotel as an intern, is busy making sure that everything goes according to plan. But unexpected problems keep arising, and some of the guests are not who they pretend to be. Very soon, Sophie finds herself right in the middle of a perilous adventure–and at risk of losing not only her job, but also her heart. (From the book blurb)
This was a perfect winter read! The book is set in a beautiful hotel up in the Swiss Alps, while the main events take place between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so I couldn’t have asked for a more atmospheric YA book.
Seventeen year old Sophie Spark is a high school dropout who is working as an intern in a luxury hotel. She is trying to find her own place in the world, however different it might be from her mother expectations and her friends’ chosen lifepaths. Sophie is learning various jobs and tasks hotel staff do: she has been a chambermaid, learnt ins and outs of running the laundry room equipment, worked as the hotel spa assistant and baby-sitter. Sophie’s a lovely girl with her own particular brand of humour. She’s always smiling (maybe a bit too much) and has even occasionally burst into a song in the laundry room. She also gives milkroll crumbs to seven little jackdaws who coo outside the window of her tiny room. Sophie’s also very independent and doesn’t give in to peer pressure.
Ben Monfort is the only son of one of the hotel owners and is also working there for free during his winter holidays. Ben still needs to figure out his feelings towards the old hotel. On one hand, he has grown up in it and has known most of the staff since he was a toddler. On the other hand, he feels he will never be free to make his own choices in life. If you are not a fan of love triangles, I’ve got bad news for you, as not only Ben, but also another mysterious, but utterly gorgeous hotel guest falls in love with Sophie.
There is a huge cast of characters. Some of them are nice and warm-hearted (or rather that’s what Sophie thinks) or…the opposite. Sophie might be a bit quick to judge people, but perhaps it is just the prerogative of her age to find out that not everybody is what they seem to be at a first glance. There is a Russian oligarch travelling incognito, a PI following the trail of a criminal, a group of thieves, a famous writer… the list goes on. One of the guests pretends to be nice and meek, although deep down they are cruel and heartless, while another one who doesn’t seem to have a kind bone in their body, turns out to be not so bad.
There is money laundering, kidnapping and jewellery theft, so the book is action-packed, although there are also a few very romantic scenes, including several almost-kisses and a spellbinding waltz on the hotel roof.
Hotels have this special liminal quality that makes you believe anything can happen there, however strange, improbable or downright scary (picture Shining or even Psycho in your mind). You are also allowed to be anything or anybody you want (within reasonable limits) and that includes acting heroically to save somebody’s life. I won’t say more as I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of reading this book.
Overall, entertaining, unusual, sentimental, A Castle in the Clouds has a lot to go for it. Not least, it has a cozy atmosphere, quirky characters, squeeky clean romance, and a feel-good-happy-ending.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
- Have you read A Castle in the Clouds or is it on your tbr?
- Have you read any other books by Kerstin Gier?
- Can you think of other books set in a liminal space that you would recommend?