cover image The Hotel Under the Sand

The Hotel Under the Sand

Kage Baker. Tachyon Publications, $8 (179pp) ISBN 978-1-892391-89-6

Baker's (the Company series) first book for children introduces a young heroine named Emma, who finds herself on the Dunes after an unspecified disaster. Her apparent solitude is an illusion: the Dunes are home to the lost Grand Wenlocke, the most luxurious hotel in the world, as well as the ghost of dutiful Bell Captain Winston Oliver Courtland. The hotel is uncovered by conveniently timed winds and in short order the orphan and ghost are joined by cook Mrs. Beet, tugboat pirate Captain Doubloon and fellow orphan Masterman Wenlocke. The five form an ad-hoc family and begin operating the hotel once more. At the outset, the omniscient narrator assures readers that Emma has the required ""cleverness and bravery"" to tackle an adventure, but the book offers scant opportunities for Emma to demonstrate this. The tragedy that maroons Emma is deliberately vague, Doubloon is amiable, Masterman proves reasonable and the servants are properly submissive. The element of danger introduced by the arrival of Masterman's conniving guardian seems perfunctory. Although skillfully written, the book is undermined by a lack of tension. Ages 9-12.