Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite
Hotel Belmar: The Ghost Has The Key by S.K. Carnes is an intense and simply fabulous novel of grit and courage. While I was not expecting to like this novel as much as I did, I was amazed when I found out that I not only liked the multitude of characters, but actually related to many of them. I enjoyed the flow of the story and how well the author created the characters. Every ghost had a story with substance; nothing was added to pad out the novel, but to genuinely make the story better and more invigorating.
This is the story of a woman named Lori Moyer, a writer who is trying to write a book about Hotel Belmar. This is a century-old hotel, filled with stories of ghosts and entities that still roam this hotel and try to be heard. While researching, Lori’s friend Cynthia checks into a haunted room in the hotel to help her out with first-hand experiences. Together, the two women learn about the people of the past, about their lives, about their deaths, and find out what it is like to truly live.
Hotel Belmar was intense, but it was the good kind of intense. I enjoyed the high I got from reading the stories of the ghosts and at times I wanted to know more too. I liked Cynthia, and even though she had her troubles, she knew what she had to do to get her life back on track. Lori was another story. She was determined, ready and alert, which made her character strong and simply powerful. The pace was fast, the flow was great and the dialogues were crisp. I enjoyed Hotel Belmar immensely. Amazing and awesome!
Reviewed by May Q. Wong, author of “A Cowherd in Paradise.”
S.K. Carnes delivers again with her newest book, Hotel Belmar: The Ghost Has the Key. Fall into Carnes’ hypnotic telling of the history of Mazatlan, Mexico, known as the “Pearl of the Pacific.” Set in the historic Hotel Belmar, in the heart of Old Town Mazatlan, Carnes leads us through the winding hallways to meet the ghosts of political leaders, military heroes and rebels, authors and poets, stars of stage and film, and the rich and famous (and infamous) who lived in old world luxury. There, they loved, danced, created, were wined and dined, and some even died (or were murdered.)
Well-researched, supported with details from the municipal archives and anecdotes from local historians and long-term residents, Carnes relates a sometimes complex and convoluted history in a unique and always entertaining way.
Review by Evelyn Wolff.
Reading Hotel Belmar was like watching the author humbly and respectfully live-stream this robust adventure through the voices of learned local storytellers and archivists, hotel staff and guests. She even lets a friend interview the ghosts who lived and died there, Simone Martinez-Bradbury, wife of the owner, heads of state, warriors, movie stars, heroes and villains, they wander these halls still.
Our walk with her through the many incarnations of the Belmar spirals outward from these encounters in its halls, to become interwoven with tales of Mazatlan, some affecting all of Mexico and its cross-culturalization with the rest of the world. Then she takes us inward till we are pulsing deep in the passionate heart of its people- ferocious, courageous, comfortable with the mysteries of the beyond, and oh so compassionate. It left me examining how much light do I care to share, when “those who give light must endure burning.”
Obviously, the essence of the Mexican people resonates so deeply in the heart of the author inducing an ecstasy that allows her to transcend history giving us an unforgettable lived experience of “the wild melodies of the terroir” which she translates as “the beat of wild abandon, wine and the earth that receives us.”
Her entranced narrative lets us share that ecstasy as we also fall in love with the characters in this book, while learning so much- why our streets are named after these beings; how the Pre-Columbian matriarchal influences of the indigenous people, who are still 80% of all Mexicans, prepped them to focus on Mother Mary /Our Lady of Guadalupe in their interpretation of Roman Catholicism; the history of Carnaval; how Macho was never meant to be Machismo; and finally, how the present can be truly healed by the gift of visiting the mysterious past.
If you want to joyously learn a lot about Mexican history, feel closer to the spirit of the Mexican people, while having a romping adventure, I dare you to enter the portal of The Hotel Belmar!
In my opinion this book deserves 5 Stars.
Review by Sarah Trevor
A history of the city of Mazatlán, Mexico? The biography of a grand hotel? A ghost story? There is no easy way to categorize The Hotel Belmar without diminishing Susan Carnes’ achievement. Her extensive research and the individuals she found to bring life to her research may have been enough for some writers. However, Carnes brings much more to this her fourth book, making for a delightful and at times, racy read. Carnes’ artistic passion recognizes her subject as wilder, richer and more complex than many of us might. And the players in this history? This is not ‘His – story’. Yes, there are powerful men and famous individuals, but also women who achieve greatness their way. Plus, there is the character of weather gone berserk, of war and revolution and plague and firework events that boggle the mind. Then the personality of Mazatlán’s Hotel Belmar and its ghosts. But Carnes adds more. Those broken in spirit who wash up on Mazatlán’s shores. The Hotel Belmar is a celebration of the healing quality of community and the victorious human spirit which is quintessentially Mazatlán.