Hotel Arcadia; a unique, thought-provoking thriller

Hotel Arcadia is a very different, unique thriller. It depicts a brutal and bloody terrorist siege set in a luxury hotel. Yet the protagonists – two survivors trapped in the hotel, never personally encounter the terrorists, meaning that we as the readers don’t either. However this actually enhances the tension. It also means that this thriller is extremely thought-provoking.

The fact that the narrative does not focus on the terrorists was an intentional decision by author Sunny Singh. Sunny, who signs of her acknowledgements at the end of the novel with a very moving thank you to ‘all the woman journalists, researchers, aid workers, and activists‘ who are her ‘friends, colleagues, heroines and inspiration,’ spent over two decades researching terrorism, including the people who commit the terrorist attacks. During this time, Sunny also researched war photography. Through this research, Sunny came to the realisation that it is not the actual terrorists that interest her. Rather it is the survivors of these atrocities that fascinate Sunny, especially those who are not stereotypical victims.

Hence Hotel Arcadia is a powerful and intimate character driven novel focusing on Sam and Abhi, two survivors of the terrorist siege. As well as never personally encountering the terrorists, Sam and Abhi also never actually personally meet throughout the narrative, yet they come together to form an unlikely and very emotional bond. This bond results in them saving the life of Billy, a vulnerable five-year-old who Sam accidently discovers sheltered under the body of his murdered father.

Sunny Singh

Sam is the character that really fascinates me in this novel. With her shaved head, ‘bravado and focus,’ Sam presents a cold, hard exterior to the world. She is a war photographer, famous for her hauntingly beautiful pictures of the dead, as ‘the dead have always spoken to her, telling her the best angle to capture something of their life.’ Although the narrative portrays the terrorist siege within Hotel Arcadia where Sam is staying following her latest assignment, we as readers are also intimately privy to Sam’s dysfunctional past. In her life she refuses to get close to anyone, using whisky as her tool to block everything, everyone and emotions out. It is very clear that Sam is suffering from PTSD. I really like Sam as she is extremely vulnerable, but she also really frustrates me as she insists on putting herself in danger throughout the terrorist attack by searching for the dead so she can take their photograph. However if she didn’t do that, there would be no story.

Abhi, the hotel manager has a true heart. Yet he is also vulnerable and damaged, living a life of emotional isolation. Struggling with his sexuality and refusing to follow the military path his father and brother expected of him, he has cut himself off from his family. However we soon realise that before the terrorist attack, he was on the brink of opening up his heart like never before.

In an unlikely way, Sam and Abhi form a unique bond to survive, finding strength and courage in each other, as well as friendship. Their relationship is really poignant and emotional.

I enjoyed Hotel Arcadia, finding it really moving and thought provoking. However I found the ending disappointing as for me, it was left too open. I think this was the author’s intention to enhance the true meaning of the novel. However for me as a reader, I was left with too many unanswered questions.

Following its success when it was released in hardback, Hotel Arcadia was published in paperback on 21 March 2024.

Thank you Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of Hotel Arcadia. To follow the blog tour, please see below.

1 Comment

  1. April 3, 2024 / 9:49 am

    Thanks for the blog tour support x

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