Prince of Nightmares.
4 stars out of 5.
Welcome to the Ballador Country House Hotel. Nestled in the highlands of Scotland, it is unlike any other lodging. Guests can expect wonderful scenery, gourmet food, and horrifying nightmares—guaranteed. Daring travelers pay thousands to stay within the Ballador’s infamous rooms because of the vivid and frightening dreams the accommodations inspire.
Before Josephine Teversham committed suicide, she made a reservation at the hotel for her husband, Australian magnate Victor Teversham. Once he arrives at the hotel, Victor finds himself the target of malevolent forces, revealing the nightmares—and their purpose—to be more strange, personal, and deadly than anyone could have guessed.
I was sent a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
On the surface Prince of Nightmares couldbe deemed to be another rather standard haunted house ghost story, at times reminding me of a couple of horror films I’ve previously seen, House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts, but in-fact turns out to be far more. After the event at the start of the book, the story revolves around and predominantly takes place at Ballador House with the main character being Victor Teversham, a recently bereaved and elderly rich businessman and philanthropist The last thing Victor’s wife did before she passed away was to book a suite at the world-famous Ballador House Hotel famed for giving its guests nightmares. Unsure of why, trying to come to terms with the loss of his wife and partly because it was her last act Victor travels to the Ballador hoping for some peace and to find the answer as to why his late wife had booked for a stay at such a strange place. Sending his Man Friday Harry away he’s left alone with the hotel staff, the other guests and the ‘residents’ (the residents being the ghosts that inhabit the individual rooms).
Alongside Victor’s stay at the Ballador we follow his Man Friday Harry as with nothing better to do while he waits around to pick Victor up after his four-day stay at the Ballador concludes, he decides to takes it upon himself and search around to uncover the truth about the so-called nightmares that take place at the hotel. This is a welcome addition to the book adding perspective and depth to the story. These sections also gives the reader a much-needed break from the horrors taking place back at Ballador House.
McNee does a great job of bringing the horrors and frights to life with vivid and gruesome descriptions of the residents and the horrors that they invoke on the guests, really highlighing the unsettling, dark and disturbing nature of the dreams. At times Victor himself doesn’t know if he’s asleep and having nightmares or if he’s actually awake in the real world and neither do you the reader and that’s great suspenseful writing as you’re not sure either if what’s happening is real or imagined pulling you into Victor’s and the other guests Plight of constant fear and dread. McNee gives the reader high quality graphic often visceral imagery that at times isn’t for the feint of heart
The explanation and nature of the phenomenon of the Ballador is revealed about two-thirds of the way through the book and not at the books conclusion as you may expect. This, however works really well, it doesn’t detract from the story at all and adds layering to it as you know what malovent evil lays behind and is the reason for the nightmares afflicting the guests. Turning into a race against time to see if it canbe stopped as the lines between the nightmares and reality become blurred. I’m not into giving away spoilers so I won’t explain the actual reason and concept behind the residents of the Ballador and the nightmares in this review but I will say it’s well thought out and original in what from my limited experience is a genre saturated with the same old stereotypes.
Focusing on a cast of small characters, I found none of them to be particularly likeable but all are intriguing in their own ways, Gia and Heinrich being two of the most developed guests in the Ballador along with Victor. The ‘residents’ of the hotel are also all imaginatively conceived in their monstrous and hideous descriptions with McNee bringing them to life in your mind as you can really picture what they look like and the horrors awaiting the guests. Victor, the main protagonist of the book like the cast on a whole isn’t a likeable person but, he is an engaging character for the story to revolve and centre around.
This is a well written horror novel that pulls you in throughout the books length, from the more sedate beginning before ramping things up after the reveal behind the Ballador’s phenomenon onwards to the conclusion. I will admit that after having thought about it before I started this review, I’m still not sure what to think about the books ending but it’s imaginative and wasn’t what I has been expecting.
Thanks in no small part to McNee’s vividly descriptive writing style, the original idea surrounding the evil lurking within the Ballador and Victor Teversham being a captivating character this is a great disturbing read.
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