cover image Travelers Rest

Travelers Rest

Keith Lee Morris. Little, Brown, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-33582-9

Expertly refurbishing an old structure, this haunted-hotel novel generates some genuine chills. A heavy snowstorm leads Prof. Tonio Addison to pull off the highway and look for a place to stay in Good Night, Id. The huge, eponymous old lodge somehow tempts members of his party—Tonio himself; his wife, Julia; their 10-year-old son, Dewey; and Tonio’s shiftless younger brother, Robbie—to follow impulses and wander off on separate missions. Soon they find themselves alone, catching only odd, disturbing glimpses of one another in or around the hotel. Smart, clever Dewey is the least befuddled, but even he loses control as the action accumulates echoes of increasingly uncanny past events. The characters appear to coexist more or less consciously and willingly with people who lived and died in the hotel years ago, and the elements of an old tragedy are gathering themselves for a reenactment. Morris (The Dart League King) handles the spooky materials deftly, but his writing is what makes the story really scary: quiet and languorous, sweeping steadily and inexorably along like a curtain of drifting snow identified too late as an avalanche. Agent: Renee Zuckerbrot, Renee Zuckerbrot Literary. (Jan.)