Welcome to the strangest hotel in the world!
There’s no place on earth like the Whippet Hotel. Every floor has its surprises and secrets. Guests are either mad or mysterious. And ducks are everywhere.
If anyone knows the Whippet, it’s Leo, the caretaker’s son. But when he finds four strange boxes that lead him to hidden floors he realises something extraordinary is going on.
As the hotel begins to fall apart, Leo's on the ride of his life, without ever having to step outside.
Walter E. Whippet's dying words to his son Merganzer were: "You will prosper in the field of wacky inventions". Merganzer took this to mean that he should use his inherited billions to create something unique and so he bought an entire Manhattan block, had all the buildings pulled down, and proceeded to build the weirdest, strangest, most unusual hotel in the world... ever! Unusually for Manhattan it was a very small hotel surrounded by grounds vast enough to make a property developer weep at the waste of incredibly expensive space.
Those who did not know better assumed the Whippet Hotel to have only nine floors, topped with a pond on the roof as Merganzer was especially fond of ducks. Not many people choose to stay at the hotel as it is horrendously expensive, and those that do all seem to be rather eccentric in one way or another. The hotel is run by a skeleton staff of Leo Fillmore and his father Clarence (maintenance); Mr Phipps (gardener); Ms Sparks (particularly nasty desk clerk and general manager); Pilar (maid) and her son Remi (newly appointed bellboy). All meals are delivered from a local restaurant so there is no need for kitchen staff.
Of course, there is also Merganzer Whippet himself, but he has mysteriously gone missing, and as the story starts he has been missing for 100 days, leaving his hotel and his beloved ducks in the care of his staff. On this 100th day, as he is collecting the ducks for walk in the gardens, Leo discovers a box in the duck life with his name on, and so the adventure begins as he has to solve the clues and get to the bottom of the mystery, as the hotel starts to fall apart around him. All the time he is looking over his shoulder, suspecting that there is someone in the hotel, guest or staff member, hellbent on causing chaos through sabotage, possibly with a view to helping the mysterious Bernard Frescobaldi obtain the hotel and its valuable land at a knock-down price.
Floors is a really fun read, and before I knew it I had read it in a single sitting (ahhh... the benefits of the school holidays). I think it is a great book for the 9+ age group, who will love the mystery and suspense, as well as the comedy that runs throughout the story. The various incredible rooms in the hotel will fire up children's imaginations, and have them wishing for their very own Pinball Machine room, Room of Ponds and Caves, or Robot Room. Whilst reading about these I was reminded of the various areas in Willy Wonka's factory, and how much pleasure I got out of reading about them when I was a child. Just like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I think Floors would make a great family film and I wouldn't be surprised if there is some interest Hollywood in the book.
Although I have drawn parallels with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I must also add that I do not think that Patrick Carman's storytelling is quite up to the level of the late, great Roald Dahl. The characters and the hotel are well imagined, but some of the scenes in the bizarre, hidden lacked faultless pace the clarity of description that we get in a Roald Dahl book. However, this one small gripe has not stopped me from looking forward to the next book in what I believe is intended to be a series. The book comes to a satisfying conclusion, but we are given a small handful of hints that there are more adventures to come for Leo and his friends in the Whippet Hotel.
Floors was published by Chicken House at the beginning of January and my thanks go to the publisher for sending me a copy to review.