‘The Third Hotel’ by Laura Van Den Berg – My Husband, The Zombie

I do not read zombie novels…except this one accidentally. I have never read a zombie novel before and I probably will never read another zombie novel again. I do not find the concept of zombies at all compelling. However this zombie novel ‘The Third Hotel’ has an enticing locale in Havana, Cuba, and an interesting backstory.

To call ‘The Third Hotel’ a zombie novel is perhaps too harsh. It is not at all uncommon for a person who has lost someone close to them recently to imagine that dead person to still be there with them occasionally. Author Van Den Berg ties the events of this story close enough to reality so that I did not lose interest.

Claire has just arrived in Havana, Cuba to attend the New Latin American Cinema Film Festival. Her film critic husband Richard had gotten tickets for both of them to attend but he has been killed by a passing car while walking a few weeks ago. The grieving Claire decides to attend the festival alone. Soon after she watches the movie her husband was particularly interested in, ‘Revolution Zombi’ by director Yuniel Mata, Claire while wandering in Havana spots her dead husband Richard walking away from her.

The museum cast an enormous shadow and her husband was standing within that shadow. She recognized him first from behind, from several hundred feet away, and stopped in the middle of the sidewalk because she was dizzy and her mouth was packed with rocks. She ordered herself to stop recognizing him, because what she was recognizing was plainly impossible, but then she crept closer and saw just how possible it was.”

During the next few days she spots him several times.

You are dead. How could you have forgotten?”

We get the story of the marriage of Richard and Clare. Clare works in elevator sales traveling to towns and cities throughout the United States. Of course the hotel she stays at in Havana has an elevator of interest.

The tone of ‘The Third Hotel’ is overwrought, dreamlike, trancelike, surreal. There is a deliberate confusing of what is real and what is unreal that left me … confused. This is a fever dream of a novel.

‘The Third Hotel’ does capture the exotic atmosphere of the now booming tourist destination Havana nicely. This setting of a horror film festival in Havana is original, colorful, and interesting.


Grade:   B


2 responses to this post.

  1. I meant to stop back here a while ago when I first read your post (I didn’t have time to comment then). I did enjoy The Third Hotel, partly because I read her first novel, Find Me, and she has grown so much with this one. I am impressed by the amount of research she did on horror film. I don’t read it quite as a zombie book, but it is very surreal and disturbing, not my usual kind of read!

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Kat,
      ‘The Third Hotel’ was definitely a change of pace for me.
      I just had an idea for a novel or story. A recently departed mate comes back (in some mysterious fashion) to help the living mate through his or her grief and to proceed with their life. I’m sure it’s been done before.



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