Mo­tel Hell

SFX - - Reviews - Once an as­pir­ing ac­tor, Mor­ris turned to writ­ing af­ter read­ing some lousy lo­cal plays and re­al­is­ing he could do bet­ter.

re­leased 7 Jan­uary 368 pages | Hard­back/ebook Au­thor Keith lee Mor­ris Pub­lisher Wei­den­feld & nicol­son

It sounds like an ur­ban leg­end. There’s this fam­ily – the Ad­dis­ons. They’re driv­ing across Amer­ica but are caught out in a snow­storm. They de­cide to shel­ter in a small town, the omi­nously-named Good Night (it may as well have “You’ll never leave” on the wel­come sign), where they check into a mo­tel. Bad move – they’re im­me­di­ately sep­a­rated and find them­selves trapped in its limbo-like cor­ri­dors.

The blurb ref­er­ences David Lynch, but Trav­el­ers Rest is more Way­ward Pines than Twin Peaks. There’s pre­cious lit­tle cherry pie and charm here, just a lin­ger­ing sense of fore­bod­ing. The Shin­ing is a clear in­flu­ence, not least be­cause of its young pro­tag­o­nist, Dewey, who is quick to pick up on the weird­ness. But while Keith Lee Mor­ris’s prose has a hyp­notic rhythm that per­fectly cap­tures the un­canny am­bi­ence, his char­ac­ters’ frus­tra­tions come to re­flect the reader’s – the book spends too long feel­ing like it’s go­ing nowhere, and you tire of peo­ple star­ing out of the win­dow and com­ment­ing on the weather.

It’s a shame, as Mor­ris’s char­ac­ters are well-de­vel­oped and it’s all build­ing to­wards a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion. An ul­ti­mately re­ward­ing, if some­times ar­du­ous, jour­ney. Will Salmon

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