The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

The Third Hotel

In Havana, Cuba, a widow tries to come to terms with her husband’s death―and the truth about their marriage―in Laura van den Berg’s surreal, mystifying story of psychological reflection and metaphysical mystery.Shortly after Clare arrives in Havana, Cuba, to attend the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema, she finds her husband, Richard, standing outside a museum. He’s wearing a white linen suit she’s never seen before, and he...

Details The Third Hotel

TitleThe Third Hotel
Release DateAug 7th, 2018
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
GenreFiction, Mystery, Literary Fiction, Thriller, Mystery Thriller

Reviews The Third Hotel

  • Roxane
    Beautifully written, atmospheric novel about marriage and grief. Also very strange, diffuse. Mostly set in Cuba, and the country is rendered in lovely ways. So much precision of language. The ending... doesn't quite work for me, or, better put, I did not understand the ending. I admire the amount of work that went into this book--lots of interesting stuff about horror movies. Fascinating novel.
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    This is my favorite work of the author's yet. After her husband's death, Clare travels to Cuba on the trip they were supposed to make together, to a horror film festival. Her husband was an academic studying the genre. But then she sees him in Havana.... The remarkable thing is that in just over 200 pages, the author creates so many layers - horror films, Cuban culture, psychological thrills, grief, the questions of if we can truly know another p...
  • Iryna (Book and Sword)
    2.5/5 (rounded down)"What in the world did I just read" - sums up this book very well. At least for me. Aside from giving it a low rating I actually do not think that this is a bad book, I think that this is a brilliant book - for the right audience. The closest thing I can compare it to is The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman, so if you enjoyed that one you will probably love The Third Hotel. Myself? Not so much. I didn't enjoy Gaiman...
  • Tziggy
    I hate to say this and maybe it was me, but I was lost with the story. The writer could write well enough. But the story seemed all over the place. In my mind there was a bit of false advertising from the blurb. It was nothing like I imagined it would be.
  • Mike Scalise
    Read this book if you like any of the following, or all of the following, and you'll be utterly entranced: (a) horror movies(b) smart discussions about horror movies(c) ghost stories(d) ghost stories that kind of maybe aren't ghost stories, but also maybe are?(e) strange, confounding protagonists(f) metaphysical mysteries(g) deep considerations of marriage and what it means(h) short, finish-in-one-sitting novels with unique, irresistible voices
  • Connie
    What is real and what is in the imagination of the mind? Laura Van Den Berg's "The Third Hotel" takes us through a surreal experience where the characters are in a liminal space between real and unreal, and between dead and not dead.Recently widowed Clare travels to Havana to attend a film festival that her husband, a horror film scholar, had originally planned to attend. Then she sees him standing outside a Cuban museum--but he died five weeks e...
  • Blair
    The Third Hotel is such a complex and meaningful novel, so deceptively smooth yet so loaded with significance. It's almost too big for me to sum up without spinning into endless ruminations. It's about tourism, grief, and misogyny in the arts. It is also a startling piece of weird fiction in which a woman encounters her dead husband alive again. This is not a case of mistaken identity, but whether he is a ghost, hallucination or alternate self we...
  • Julie Ehlers
    But maybe a person became even more themselves when away, liberated from their usual present tenseI read this sentence only a few days after returning from my own vacation, and I paused for a minute to consider how true it was: On my first trip in a few years, I felt liberated from my routines and obligations, which made me relaxed and happy and therefore more easygoing and nicer to the people around me—more myself, as I would be without all th...
  • Eilonwy
    Suddenly and newly widowed Clare (5 weeks as the story opens) has gone to a Latin Horror Movie Festival in Havana, not because she’s into horror movies, but because her husband was. She mingles a little with the other attendees, but mostly wanders around isolated and alone. Then she sees her husband on the street--I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book. I was hoping a bit for fast-paced, gripping psychological suspense. It’s d...
  • Kylie D
    A strange little book that sees our protagonist, Clare, reeling from the death of her husband Richard. Richard was a horror film buff, and was planning to go to a film festival in Cuba when he died in an accident. Clare decides to honour this wish and still go. She does go to some of the festivities, but spends a lot of time wandering aimlessly about in Havana, where she sees her husband outside a museum. She continues to see him around, thinking...
  • Heather
    This is a cerebral text about liminal spaces. A woman pursues the ghost of her dead husband through Havana. He was a academic specializing in horror films which leads to some gorgeous brilliant insights on the techniques, purposes, and psychology of horror films.
  • Jenifer
    I can’t decide whether to give this book a 2 or a 3. I keep changing the rating. The writing is beautiful and I loved the premise. The plot was intriguing and dark and kept me guessing until the end. Unfortunately, it kept me guessing a little too much because about 3/4 ways through the book derailed into something so abstract I kept asking myself, “what the hell am I reading”? I continued reading through to the end because it was a pretty ...
  • Kalen
    I just didn't get this one and I suspect it's more me than the book itself. I'm actually sitting here feeling rather stupid that I didn't get this one, pretty much at all. I suspect that if you're a fan of horror films and books, you'll get it and that's who I recommend it for. I also suspect I tried to read it/take it too literally.
  • Meike
    Cuba, zombies, elevators, simultaneous possibilities and loose molars - this was quite a ride! Review to follow.
  • Kasa Cotugno
    This is a highly unusual take on a familiar subject, accomplished with originality and wit. Laura van den Berg had me at the location and setting, but her protagonist stepped off the page and became real, a viable character flaws and all. I was even intrigued by her line of work. Havana also comes alive, and Clare's long walks through her streets are filled with sensual detail. I was somewhat reminded of Daphne du Maurier's description of Venice ...
  • Adam
    I just never fully connected with The Third Hotel. I appreciated many aspects of the novel, and van den Berg does a great job with the setting. I almost feel like I had visited Havana in some ways by the time I was done. But ultimately I think there was a bit too much going on, and in such a short novel, some of the "side elements" of the narrative took away from the main aspect, which is an examination of Clare and Richard's relationship. I woul...
  • Lupita Reads
    Grief is a monster that’s never been rawly explored- this novel attempts that and does so much justice to the human soul. I loved this! Making it one of my favorites of 2018. Strange, eerie yet so very beautifully written.
  • Courtney Maum
    A lovely, haunting book that recalls Deb Olin Unferth's "Vacation" crossed with Samantha Hunt "The Seas." If you enjoyed the film, "A Ghost Story", you will love this book. It's complex, lush, sensual and wholly original. An enchanting read.
  • Vincent Scarpa
    Beyond the possibilities of articulation. A masterpiece from a writer with singular empathetic and intellectual voltage.
  • Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
    A gorgeous, unnerving, and supremely masterful novel.". . . to plunge a viewer into a state of terror meant to take away their compass, their tools for navigating the world, and to replace it with a compass that told a different kind of truth. The trick was ensuring the viewer was so consumed by fright that they didn't even notice this exchange was being made; it was a secret transaction between their imagination and the film, and when they left ...
  • Jerry
    Strange and evolving and fluid. I found it interesting to follow Clare's perceptions of reality, grief, travel, and horror movies. However, the meanderings fell short for me. I like strangeness and depth in a story, but I don't think the author capitalized on the possibilities. In the end, it just felt scattered to me.Rating this one was tough. It's a three for me. Could have been a two, but it was juuuust weird enough to bump it up.Here's a rand...
  • Jessica Sullivan
    “Nothing is settled, she would want to tell them. Everything is still ongoing.”Grieving the recent death of her husband, Richard, Clare travels to Havana on a whim to attend a horror film festival he had planned to attend before he died.While in Havana, Clare catches an impossible glimpse of Richard outside of a museum and spends the rest of her trip trying to find her dead husband again.There’s an air of metaphysical mystery to what follow...
  • Elliot
    ur fav creative writing prof could never!!!!
  • Amitaf0208
    omg - this is such an amazing book. felt like a melancholic dream. did not want it to end. highly recommend.
  • Chad Guarino
    Some ambiguity is a good thing.209 pages of it may be too much of a good thing.
  • Ilana
    Incredible, gorgeous novel. Cannot wait for the world to get to read it. Addictive, propulsive, and a fascinating look at the psyche of grief. Also just incredibly intelligent and multilayered and emotionally riveting.
  • Jamie
    Absolute stunner of a novel.
  • Veronica Moss
    This book is very strange. I suspect people will either love it or strongly dislike it - perhaps it'll become a cult classic or a really bizarre episode of Black Mirror. I thought the writing was really descriptive and beautiful, and liked the concept of the story which is why I gave it three stars. However the story just didn't really go anywhere; it was really ambiguous, absurd and at times illogical. There were many loose ends and I finished t...
  • Ylenia
    [ 2.5 stars ]Ambiguous, weird but beautifully written. I definitely wasn't expecting this book to be like this and I was confused but intrigued most of the times.Not really the book for me, but if you appreciate weird book you might want to give this one a try.