Are you ready for the vacation of a lifetime?
Victor has always had a passion for Norse history and mythology, but after hitting a dead end with his book on valkyries, not even that passion is enough to move him forward. Just when he’s ready to abandon the project, he receives an email: he’s won a free trip to Hotel Fen, a remote vintage resort in the Scandinavian Mountains.
Silje has always felt that her life was fairly unremarkable. She cares deeply about people and that has led her to find her purpose at a nursing home in Oslo. When a resident dies and leaves her an all-expense paid vacation package to Hotel Fen, however, she takes the opportunity to experience something different.
It all starts innocently enough, with a little meet-cute in the hotel elevator that takes forever to arrive on their floor. But the longer Victor and Silje remain together, the more dangerous the hotel becomes, and the more they question where reality ends and the impossible begins.
Targeted Age Group:: Adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I've long been fascinated by Norse mythology, especially with their concept of Ragnarok and destiny. But it took befriending Meri Benson and being inspired by her self-publishing efforts for me to actually sit down and get that story out. I love collaborating and it was fun to work on this book together with her.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Meri and I tend to split our characters so we can focus in fleshing them out, though we do a lot of brainstorming as we go through the process. The female lead, Silje, is inspired by several women I know personally. And we added a cat because the animal companion is obligatory, right? (She's not just an ordinary cat, though.)
“I had a weird dream, it’s probably what’s throwing me. And this sudden power outage doesn’t help.”
“Seriøst? Was it a bad dream?”
Before he could answer her, a sound echoed from the darkness in front of them and his arm settled around her, like he could protect her from whatever it was. Because she had to have heard that, right? Especially if he took the way her hand fisted his shirt a little. “Good dream, just unexpected,” he answered.
She hummed softly at his answer, though her eyes remained on the gaping darkness in front of them. Then she whispered, “We should check that out. Someone might be trapped.”
That was exactly the kind of stupid ideas he’d been trying to avoid. Not that he thought it was uncalled for. She’s not wrong, for while they hadn’t seen anyone on the floor with them, that didn’t mean there wasn’t. They could’ve had a floor mate who’d been out or had checked in while they’d been busy enjoying each other’s company. “We should do it together.”
Her grip on his shirt loosened as she nodded, though it actually took a second for either of them to move.
It felt like they had walked for hours before they finally reached the next room on their side of the hallway. 807. The darkness must be playing tricks on them, spooking them in a way he hadn’t expected. In fact, a thump from the other side of the door made him grow incredibly still, and he had to take a deep breath before he managed to knock on the door, one that gave a resounding echo.
No one seemed to be inside, but the door swung open for them.
The room was dark. “It looks like the curtains are drawn,” he commented as he swept the light from his phone into the room. Shifting in front of her, he took a step into the room and felt her arm catch his, though he wasn’t sure if it was to hold him back or so she wouldn’t be left behind.
She bumped into his back when he paused for a moment to try and figure it out. “Why did you stop?” She leaned to one side so she could peer around him, not that there was anything to see. Just an empty room, identical to theirs. “Is something wrong?”
She was whispering, and he knew she didn’t have to, yet the idea of talking at a normal register seemed oddly inappropriate in this situation. It wasn’t their room, and they didn’t know what made the sound, nor did they know why this hotel seemed to have an issue with doors staying locked. “Just trying to figure things out,” he answered quietly, before he started to creep into the room again.
Nothing seemed out of place. The desk chair was pushed into the little desk, the TV and remote rested on the dresser facing the two beds. Even the beds themselves were made and neat, no layer of dust on anything, like they had been cleaned or dusted in the last day or so. He didn’t stop though, continuing to the windows so he could pull the curtains open. The outside world seemed to be only white between the snow in the air and on the ground, but the glow at least made it a little easier for them to see. “We heard something in this room, didn’t we?”
“Could they have gone through the adjoining door into the next room? Ours wouldn’t lock.” She moved a little bit more confidently through the room now that she could see better, unlocking the adjoining door with a click and pulling it open.
“Wait.” Frowning, he moved toward the door she held open, staring at the dark marks on the door. “What’s that?” They looked like scratches in the white paint, or shadows of scratches. Like the door had been repainted and they only showed because the wood was still indented from the damage underneath.
“What’s what? Just let me—”
Suddenly there was a loud bang against the door that led to the other room and she jerked her hand away, stumbling back into him with wide eyes. The wood groaned as the door took another hard hit and he quickly closed their adjoining door with his free hand before pulling her away by the arm he’d ended up wrapping around her waist. “Let’s go. I don’t know about you, but I definitely didn't order the horror package when I checked in.”
"But I already apologized to the hotel," she tried to joke, if only because she didn’t want to freak out even more than she already was. She'd never been a fan of horror flicks in the first place, and now she was inexplicably experiencing things that seem to be lifted straight from those fright films: elevators that didn’t work, chilling snowstorms, sudden power outages, strange sounds in empty rooms. What in the world was going—
They returned to the hallway, and the door of 807 slammed shut so loudly she shrieked, clutching him like her life depended on it. The answering tease on the tip of his tongue died right then and there, his arms instinctually wrapping around her. Everything up until that point could have been mere coincidences, albeit really bad or at times insignificant. But that room they'd just been in? There hadn't been anyone there.
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