The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins

The Haunted Hotel, by Wilkie Collins, is a short gothic romance set in Venice. A mere 140-something pages, it elicits much of the mood he so successfully created in The Woman In White. We are introduced to the same kinds of mysterious women, one with an extraordinarily pale complexion, one with an especially tender heart, who play out their roles within a palace in Venice which had been converted to a hotel.

This is not to say there are no men in this novella. It’s just the men are quickly disappearing, and therein lies the tension. What has happened to the Baron Rivar? To Lord Montbarry? To the courier, Ferrari, who has disappeared shortly after arriving in Venice to work for Lord Montbarry? And, what lies within the secret compartment revealed when the statues adorning the mantel are pushed in a certain way?

I can see now, after reading this novel, The Comfort of Strangers, and Don’t Look Now, how Venice has become the perfect setting for the mysterious. The dangerous. Those lost in love. Because it is a city of great beauty, to be sure, but also a city which seems to defy reason. How can it exist, set as it is on a lagoon? How can the characters in these stories escape an imminent danger we sense as soon as we read the first page? I’m ready for something lighter now, but Wilkie Collins never seems to disappoint even if he does write of things darkly mysterious. Like the human soul.

I made a collage of covers, sorely lamenting my own lack of one, as the novel is available for free to those of you who own a nook. Now I can vicariously enjoy what Penguin and other publishers have used to present Collins’ novella.)

16 thoughts on “The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins”

  1. How did I not know about this novella? I read The Moonstone & The Woman in White a few years ago, loved all of them, and then set about mourning that I didn't have any more Collins to read. I'm going to download this one for my kindle now – get another taste of that mystery I loved so much last time I read him.


  2. Wow! This sounds so good! I've never read any Wilkie Collins, but looks like I'm going to have remedy that. I'm loving reading all about your Venice books – makes me wish I'd visited there when I was in Italy. Just means that I'll have to make the trip one day 🙂 Cheers, Bellezza!


  3. I think the collage was a great idea. It's something different than the usual one-cover thing. I haven't read anything by Collins and since this is free for Nook users, I'll download it today.


  4. “Lost in love”, I will remember this phrase, it so perfectly describes Venice! And I envy you for finding such great books since I am so disappointed with Calvino, but I've read the first 50 pages of Crossing the Bridge of Sighs and I can't wait to hopefully finish it this weekend 🙂


  5. I can't forget the movie set in Venice based on a Thomas Mann novel, I think, with Dirk Bogarde dying in a chair on the beach at the end. It made me see Venice as a city of mystery and intrigue.

    I saw Venice in full sunlight for the first time in the movie The Tourist with Angelina Jolie. I recommend it for the beautiful visual views of Venice.


  6. I will be reading The Haunted Hotel this week, I hope! (I am so hopelessly behind on all my reading plans…) Having wandered around Venice without bothering to check the map, and seeing it shrouded in fog, it just seems the perfect setting for the mysterious. Can't wait to start!


  7. I love seeing all those covers together. I need to collect some of those orange Penguin covers. Something else to keep an eye on when I'm shopping the used bookstores.

    And of course this book sounds just like my kind of thing. 🙂


  8. I have to admit, Carl, I was thinking of the RIP when I read it!

    I have none of the orange Penguin covers. Perhaps we can put them on a wishlist for our loved ones to give some day. (We don't have eough used bookstores around us!)


  9. Hello Bellezza,
    This article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well. These sites also usually offer the best costs that are lower than reservation directly at a Venice hotels web page. You should however read the terms and conditions for extra expenses or restrictions, such as your reservation being non-refundable.


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