Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Fiction Review: The Hotel Neversink

I bought the novel The Hotel Neversink by Adam O'Fallon Price for my husband last year after seeing that it won the 2020 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original. I finally had a chance to read it myself, at the end of the R.I.P. Challenge this fall. This wholly unique novel combines suspense, ghosts, history, and family drama in an engrossing story that spans over a century.

In 1900, a wealthy man named George B. Foley broke ground on a mansion in the Catskills, on top of a hill overlooking the Neversink River, as the region there and in the nearby Hudson River Valley began to fill with grand homes. Foley intended his house for a large family, with plenty of children, but tragedy hit, and only the house grew (and grew and grew), its dozens of rooms left empty. Finally, in 1931, lonely and despairing, he killed himself, jumping from the top of the now vast, grand Foley House. That same year, with no Foley heirs, the house was put up for auction, and a Jewish innkeeper named Asher Sikorsky borrowed every cent he could, bought the home and its expansive grounds, and opened it as a grand hotel. It held its place among the many beautiful Catskills resorts for decades, with families returning year after year. When Asher grew too old to run the resort himself, his capable daughter, Jeanie took over. In 1951, tragedy hit the picturesque hotel when a young boy disappeared. He was playing hide and seek with his new friend, Lenny, Jeanie's son, and no one ever found him. Despite that black cloud over the once pristine resort, life continued and people kept vacationing at the Hotel Neversink. Then in 1973, another child disappeared, a nine-year-old girl named Alice who is related to the Sikorskys. The hotel endures that crisis as well, and grown-up Leonard takes over management from his mother. By the 1980's, the Hotel Neversink, like many Catskills' resorts, is past its prime and struggling financially, though Leonard remains dedicated to it and his family legacy. The story moves through the decades to 2012, following both the rise and fall of the hotel as well as the various human lives surrounding it, all intertwined with the hotel's and the family's secrets.

This novel uses an original approach. After a preface with Foley's history, each chapter carries a different date and is told from the perspective of a different character. The reader is taken along on this journey, from 1950 to 2012, getting insight from a different person with each chapter. The perspectives include the Sikorsky family members but also other hotel staff and some guests. In some cases, we hear from a character multiple times and thus follow his or her life from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. These changing viewpoints allow the reader to see the hotel and its mysteries from a variety of perspectives. The constant thread throughout is the hotel--first grand and lively and later, shabby and empty--and the mystery of missing children from both the hotel and the nearby town, through decades. Right from the start, the shadow of ghost(s) in the hotel is a constant but unknown presence: are there really ghosts? Or something else? These mysteries are finally unraveled toward the end of the novel, with plenty of surprises in store. I thoroughly enjoyed this engrossing story of a family and its legacy, with a mystery at its center.

279 pages, Tin House Books

Tantor Audio

This book fits in the following 2022 Reading Challenges:


Mount TBR Challenge

Diversity Challenge

R.I.P. Challenge


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, from the preface, describing the Foley House that will become the Hotel Neversink, and/or download it from Audible.


You can buy the book through Bookshop.org, where your purchase will support the indie bookstore of your choice (or all indie bookstores)--the convenience of shopping online while still buying local!



Or you can order The Hotel Neversink from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I'm not sure this novel is for me, but it sounds like you enjoyed it, which is what matters. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  2. Sounds interesting, thanks for sharing