Published April 10, 2018
When Maya was a girl in Germany, her grandmother was everything to her: teller of magical fairy tales, surrogate mother, best friend. Then, shortly after Maya’s sixteenth birthday, her grandmother disappeared without a trace, leaving Maya with only questions to fill the void.Maya's grandmother Martha disappears from Germany soon after Maya leaves for a trip to the United States. Twenty-seven years later, out of the blue, Martha's body is found in upstate New York, near the Montgomery Resort. Maya travels to the hotel to find out what happened to her grandmother and why she was found in this place.
Twenty-seven years later, her grandmother’s body is found in a place she had no connection to: the Montgomery Resort in upstate New York. How did she get there? Why had she come? Desperate for answers, Maya leaves her life in Germany behind and travels to America, where she is drawn to the powerful family that owns the hotel and seemingly the rest of the town.
Soon Maya is unraveling secrets that go back decades, from 1910s New York to 1930s Germany and beyond. But when she begins to find herself spinning her own lies in order to uncover the circumstances surrounding her grandmother’s death, she must decide whether her life and a chance at true love are worth risking for the truth. - from Goodreads
Based on stories from the author's grandmother's life, Hotel on Shadow Lake is part mystery, part love story, and part family drama. The story is told from the third-person POV of three main characters, and each had a slightly different feel. When we first meet Martha, it is in late 1930s Germany, as the Nazi party is coming to power. Martha is appalled by what is already happening in Germany, but her brother Wolfgang is an ardent supporter. Then, the story switches to Maya's POV; while the writing in Martha's section felt sparse and almost utilitarian, Maya's section has a bit more heart and emotion. There is a third main character, but I don't want to give too much of the story away (although I did figure out the twist pretty early on)!
When Maya goes to the Montgomery Resort to find out what ties her grandmother had to the hotel and the family that ran it, we find out that her grandmother was murdered, many years ago. At times the story felt a bit over-dramatic, like the author was trying for a creepy feel, but it didn't really work. Maya didn't always come across as the most competent character, either.
Weaved throughout the story are also a fairy tale that Martha told Maya as a child, some letters, and a gossipy history of the Montgomery family. These elements helped add depth to the story, although sometimes it was a bit confusing trying to keep all the various generations of Montgomerys straight. The dialogue at times felt stilted, but the descriptions of upstate New York and the hotel were beautiful and made me want to visit. I liked the way the dual timelines came together, as well. Overall, I enjoyed the story, but it didn't make a huge impression on me.