Seth is a kitchen boy at the remote Last Chance Hotel. His father has long ago left, leaving him imprisoned until he is old enough to set out on his own. If there’s any hope he has, it’s to be the greatest chef that ever lived… just like his father.
One night, a band of magicians begins to arrive to participate in a secret meeting — a Prospect Selection Procedure to determine the most talented magicians in the world, judged by their leader Dr. Thallonius. Seth has one task: to make Dr. Thallonius the greatest dessert he’s ever tasted. Then, maybe he will help Seth find a way to freedom.
But when the doors to the private meeting open, and Dr. Thallonius lay dead on the floor, the group blames the dessert, which means that it’s Seth who will pay the price. But Seth knows he’s innocent, and only has so much time to eliminate each suspect and prove his innocence.
Thoughts and Themes: I saw this at the library and winded up picking it up based on the cover and I’m glad that I did. I really enjoyed the murder mystery in this one with the magic thrown in there as well.
There were moments in which I thought I had it figured out but then something would throw you off the trail that you originally were on. I think that children ages 8+ would really enjoy reading this one and trying to put everything together. I also really enjoyed the way that the magic system was explained in this book as it was easy to follow and I can’t wait to learn more about it.
The ending of the book surprised me, not in who actually committed the murder but more so in the things that we find out about Seth. I had suspected other things about him but not what was revealed. I can’t wait to read more to see what happens to him and what else he discovers about himself and his past.
Characters: In this story, you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Seth as well as with each other. I really enjoyed getting to learn about each of the mysterious characters who were there for the prospect and what “magic” each of them possessed. I also really enjoyed getting to learn more about Seth and loved his relationship with Nighttale, the talking cat.
Something that did throw me off while reading this is I don’t believe we got an age for Seth, is he a kid? Is he an adult? He read like a teenager figuring out things but then there were times that he read like an adult as he talks about leaving the place. I wasn’t so sure about a lot of things with him and the only reason I got an idea of what he looked like was the front cover.
Writing Style: This story is written in the third person through the perspective of Seth which made for a great story. I liked that Seth was very naive about a lot of things and that he really didn’t know much so everyone around him had to teach him things. I liked how Seth was oblivious to so much of the things around him and how patient the others are with him.
Nicki is a former bookseller, and still lives in Oxfordshire where she ran a bookshop for more than ten years. She remains passionate about books, bookshops and anything that celebrates reading for pleasure and writes a regular Mystery Journal celebrating all things crime fiction for young people.
Nicki Thornton’s ‘wickedly funny and wildly original haunted whodunit’ The Last Chance Hotel, was selected as Waterstones Book of the Month October 2018 and has gone on to be an international bestseller, being translated into fifteen languages. Nicki Thornton’s debut won the 2019 Ealing Junior Book Award, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019, was shortlisted for the 2019 CrimeFest Best Crime Novel for Children, the 2019 Oxfordshire Book Award Best Junior Novel, Shortlisted for the Warwickshire 2019 Junior Book Award and longlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018.