cover image Extended Stay

Extended Stay

Juan Martinez. Univ. of Arizona, $19.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8165-4797-5

Martinez’s impressive debut—part of the University of Arizona’s Camino del Sol series, which spotlights Latinx authors—reads like a collaboration between Lewis Carroll and H.P. Lovecraft, from an idea by Stephen King. After Alvaro and Carmen’s parents are butchered by rebels in Colombia, the siblings flee to the U.S. Alvaro, 17, and Carmen, 13, wind up stuck in Las Vegas, where Alvaro initially believes he’s lucky to get a job in the kitchen of the rundown Alicia Hotel and Casino. Mr. B., the manager, even offers the young people a free hotel room to live in. But Mr. B. has plans for Alvaro—and so does the Alicia itself. The decaying structure is part of a vast subterranean entity, the Face Beneath the Face, and it’s constantly growing by sprouting increasingly hideous rooms and consuming hotel guests. With nowhere to run, will Alvaro and Carmen capitulate to the hotel’s sinister demands? Martinez skillfully mixes the grounded dread of the grieving siblings’ experiences as impoverished and undocumented immigrants with more surreal horrors. The low-key prose will keep readers from looking away, even when events become over-the-top ghastly. This is a fresh and stunning winner. (Jan.)