Sometimes, you pick up the next book in a series and it feels like you’re catching up with old friends. Friends like Vain, like Roman, like Trick, like Emma, and like all the other wonderful characters from Michael James’ The Hotel series. The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity is the third book in this series (following The Hotel at the End of Time and The Well at the Bottom of Everything—be sure to click those links to see my thoughts about those marvellous books), and from the outset the return of these beloved characters and their world—or worlds, to be precise—brought a level of comfort. About a year after I last said goodbye to these characters, my memories of their past adventures came flooding back, and I was once again drawn into The Hotel, hook, line and sinker.
Nostalgia for past stories only goes so far and won’t carry the reader through a subpar sequel. Thankfully, The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity is no subpar sequel. From the moment I started reading it, I was greeted by the sense of freewheeling fun that James has so expertly crafted through the series. From the very outset, the first chapter, ‘Vain attempts CPR’ (once again, the chapter titles are solid gold; others include ‘Vain’s ideas always require hats,’ Flute learns some stuff she really didn’t want to know,’ and ‘Trick does some toe stretches’), I was transported directly into the book by way of a medical emergency. This soon gets flipped on its head as the story gets moving.
Picking up shortly after the events of The Well at the Bottom of Everything, The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity finds its characters scattered across the multiverse, stranded and in search of a way home, if there is indeed one. Through this, James injects a level of heart into the story previously unseen in the series. While the previous books did include a healthy amount of heart, he ups the ante here as the characters reflect upon their fates, explore their new worlds, and come into contact with alternate versions of those they left behind.
In taking this approach, a large portion of The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity’s 303 paperback pages (at the time of writing, I don’t have an estimated page count for the digital version) run at a slower pace than its predecessors. This is a slightly longer book than the first two entries, and it is a testament to the writing that none of this feels slow. These early chapters are filled with character moments that are a pure joy to read, and the pacing of this lets those moments shine, all of which are told with a wonderful sense of humour, and enough emotion that the reader can’t help but feel for the characters.
At around the halfway mark, the disparate elements come together and the plot truly starts moving. As the characters work to stop the threat, the pace picks up exponentially, building towards a thrilling climax. I’m not wanting to spoil how The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity’s threat plays out, but I will say that it is far grander in scope than the previous two volumes, a beautifully high concept that plays out brilliantly. The novel’s climax is nothing short of epic, and to top it off, James wraps the book up with a beautiful coda.
I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews of the The Hotel books how much I appreciate the wit and humour that James has brought to the books, and The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity brings it all back in spades. Whether it’s the characters’ dialogue, the descriptions or the events, this is a truly hilarious book that had me smiling throughout and chuckling often. While the author is indeed a skilled humourist, he has managed to balance it with the plot, the stakes and the characters, not sacrificing any of these elements in the name of humour. Everything rang true throughout.
The characters are all recognisable as themselves from the previous two books and just as enjoyable. Vain, the protagonist is beautifully on her very own wavelength, Emma and Ronan, while not being as large personalities are beautifully realised, and Trick continues to be explored in wonderful ways. The first half of the book explores these characters in new ways, which adds even more nuance to characters that were already beautifully realised.
The writing throughout this novel is clean and crisp, whether it’s the prose or the dialogue. Both aspects flow beautifully, and they complement each other wonderfully, making it an absolute joy to read. It has been expertly edited, providing all the necessary information without wasting any space whatsoever.
As this is the third book in the series, and the conclusion of a trilogy—though I note in the acknowledgements, James says he may return to this world one day, and I truly hope he does—I would recommend reading both The Hotel at the End of Time and The Well at the Bottom of Everything first. The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity assumes readers have read these, and while you can certainly pick up the threads if you’re new to the series, this entry is heightened by knowing the characters and the events that came before.
As a big fan of The Hotel, I am pleased to be able to say this is the best of the bunch, and that is no small feat. The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity is a wonderful book: smart, funny, witty, full of amazing characters, some real heart, a beautifully high concept and an epic tale. If you enjoy science fiction, fantasy or humorous fiction, I can’t recommend it highly enough. All I can do is beg you to read it.
Trick didn’t say anything right away, but tilted his head and gave her a funny look that made her heart flutter in a way that she thought she might be the one needing CPM’s. He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
“I like you so much.”
ain’s head filled with lava and she thought she might actually explode. She covered her face with her hands so he wouldn’t be able to see. From between her fingers she said, “ilikeyoutoo,” then turned away. God, look at the two of them, essentially filming a porno in broad daylight.The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity: Book 3 of the Hotel, Chapter 1: “Vain attempts CPR.”
The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity will be available in paperback and eBook formats exclusively from Amazon from 3 August, 2022.
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Interested in purchasing The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity?
Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.The Elevator at the Brink of Infinity (The Hotel Book 3)