There are worse places than hell… Upstairs at the Beresford by Will Carver #bookreview #UpstairsAtTheBeresford #Orentober

A grand old building, just outside the city, where any soul is welcome, and strange goings-on mask explosive, deadly secrets. A chilling, darkly funny sequel to Will Carver’s bestselling The Beresford …
There are worse places than hell… 
Hotel Beresford is a grand, old building, just outside the city. And any soul is welcome. Danielle Ortega works nights, singing at whatever dive bar will offer her a gig. She gets by, keeping to herself. Sam Walker gambles and drinks, and can’ t keep his hands to himself. Now he’s tied up in a shoe closet with a dent in his head that matches Danielle’ s broken ashtray. The man in 731 has been dead for two days and his dog has not stopped barking. Two doors down, the couple who always smokes on the window ledge will mysteriously fall. Upstairs, in the penthouse, Mr Balliol sees it all. He can peer into every crevice of every floor of the hotel from his screen-filled suite. He witnesses humanity and inhumanity in all its loneliness, passion and desperation in equal measure. All the ingredients he needs to make a deal. When Danielle returns home one night to find Sam gone, a series of sinister events begins to unfold. But strange things often occur at Hotel Beresford, and many are only a distraction to hide something much, much darker…


Hi and welcome to my review of Upstairs at the Beresford!

Upstairs at the Beresford is a prequel to The Beresford. It’s a prequel I’ll admit I never even realised I wanted but now that I’ve read it, I can’t quite comprehend how I ever went without. It was fascinating and wildly entertaining to witness the Beresford in an earlier iteration, to meet a few earlier residents and to find out a certain someone’s origin story.

Let the debauchery begin.

I adore a strong sense of setting in a book, the story inextricably bound to the city or country in which it’s set, and me enjoying the couleur locale while simultaneously learning a thing or two. The contrast between those types of stories and this one couldn’t be sharper: the Beresford could be any building outside any city, there is no scenery, there are no markers. Weirdly, the fact that the Beresford is just an anonymous building in an anonymous place provides it with its own sense of setting. It’s its own city, its own world, its own universe.

Urban legends, Gary. It’s just a building.

Oh but is it? Was it ever? By now, the Beresford has gained cult status. To my mind, at least. It’s right up there with the Overlook hotel. Or the Amityville Horror house. Or Hill House. Or Rosemary’s flat, even. Buildings that either have no soul, or too much of one, and it’s a dark one at that.

Desperation is a great catalyst for coaxing somebody to give up their soul but depression makes it a tougher sell. But this is Hotel Beresford. It lives, it breathes, it gets to know the people inside. It knows what has to be done.

There are, IMHO, two ways in which to read Upstairs at the Beresford, much like any of Will Carver’s books. You can take it at face value, read it as the speculative, slightly horror-esque thriller that it is, you’ll be superbly entertained. Or, you can dig a little deeper, look at the image in the mirror Carver holds up, a black mirror indeed, and have a think about society and humankind and religion and good vs evil and love, and God forbid, maybe even yourself. So many of the often quite acerbic observations are spot on. And some are deliriously over the top but it’s fun to ponder them anyway. 

When you watch a television soap opera, things are hyperreal. It’s unfathomable to have that many murderers and fraudsters and adulterers living on one street as part of one of three largely incestuous families. Life isn’t like that. Things don’t happen in that way. Hotel Beresford makes television soap operas look like a four-hour Scandinavian documentary about certified tax accountancy.

Any good book I’m thoroughly caught up in plays out in my mind’s eye and Upstairs at the Beresford was cinematic perfection. As I was reading, I could see it play out on a split screen, the book loving kid, the writer on the 8th floor, the silky-smooth jazz singer from room 728 leaving the lobby, a ton of admiring looks in her wake. I unwittingly pictured it as a sort of Sin City, utterly dark with the characters as bright dashes of colour.

I had the absolute best time with Upstairs at the Beresford! A speculative thriller with horror influences, drama and possibly the closest Will Carver has ever come to romance in his books, I devoured it. Highly recommended.

Upstairs at the Beresford is out on 9 November. Pre-order it directly from Orenda Books here.

Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the digital proof. All opinions are my own.

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