Book Review: The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins

hauntelhotelIs there no explanation of the mystery of The Haunted Hotel? Is The Haunted Hotel the tale of a haunting — or the tale of a crime? The ghost of Lord Montberry haunts the Palace Hotel in Venice — or does it? Montberry’s beautiful-yet-terrifying wife, the Countess Narona, and her erstwhile brother are the center of the terror that fills the Palace Hotel. Are their malefactions at the root of the haunting — or is there something darker, something much more unknowable at work?

A mysterious woman consults a doctor to see whether she is going mad or not. She tells a tale of her fiancee ditching his previous beau to marry her. However, she has left a reputation across Europe – justified or not – that has raised more than a few objections but results in the fiancé blackmailing her into the marriage.

Four months later, the husband with £10,000 in life insurance, dies whilst on honeymoon in Venice .

A year later, the Venetian palace where he died has been converted into a hotel, into which the man’s brother has a financial stake. A wedding in the family takes place, and the Grand Tour, combined with theatrical business required in Europe results in the various members of the family staying at the new hotel. Who ever from the family stays in the room where the death occurred is distressed, and refuses to stay another night in the room. In the mean time the widow (who is becoming more disturbed) arrives back in Venice and starts writing a novel.

Investigations take place in the hotel which answers some questions but raises more. However the younger brother is pressed with reading the widow’s “play” and soon we hear an alternative answer to the death, which is only more disturbing.

There are some truly creepy points in this book – the disembodied head floating above the bed for instance. The “cast of thousands” and who was related to whom was a little confusing at first but settled down to the main characters. Certainly gives some of the more modern horror writers a run for their money!


7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins

    • great, he’s a fabulous writer. If you dont like this book, try “No Name” (commentary on women’s place in society), “The Moonstone” (considered the 1st detective novel) or “The Woman in White” (Mysteries! Madness! Kidnapping! International intrigue!)


    • Collins is rarely out of print so you might have seen a reprimt in your local book store. Being a contemporary of Charles Dickens, (around 1824 – 1889), unlikely to be a fresh never before released


  1. If I was not subject to a book buying ban I wd go out and buy this instantly. I thought I knew of all Collins work but had clearly missed this one. It sounds fabulous sensation type reading. I will have to just content myself with adding to the wish list.


    • glad to hear it. Did you read the other comments? (so have you read “No Name” etc?) Of course, many of his books can be obtained for free from places like PG so it’s not like you’re *buying* them…..

      Just call me “enabler”!


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