The Hotel Under the Sand

Kage Baker

2010 Andre Norton and Mythopoeic Award nominee
2010 Locus Award runner-up

Nine-year-old Emma is lost at sea in a terrible storm. She awakens on a desolate island, frightened and lonely. Yet brave, quick-witted Emma will not be alone for long, as the ghost of a bellboy takes her to the presumed doomed Grand Wenlocke hotel.


The Hotel Under the Sand

by Kage Baker

ISBN: 9781892391896

Published: 2009

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and eBooks

Nine-year-old Emma is lost at sea in a terrible storm. She awakens on a desolate island, frightened and lonely. Yet brave, quick-witted Emma will not be alone for long, as the ghost of a bellboy appears with the tragic tale of the Grand Wenlocke.

More than a century ago, a brilliant inventor built a splendid Victorian resort, the Grand Wenlocke. The hotel was powered by a Difference Engine, a miraculous device that could slow down time (making your vacation just as long as you’d like). But just before it was scheduled to open, the Grand Wenlocke mysteriously sank under the sand. Now the storm that brought Emma to the island has awakened the hotel, perfectly preserved and as incredible as ever.

While exploring the magical hotel, Emma encounters a kind-hearted cook and her faithful little dog, a seemingly fearsome pirate captain, and the imperious young heir to the Wenlocke fortune (should it ever be recovered). Adventure, friendship, peril, and perhaps even treasure—all these and more await Emma at the hotel under the sand.

Praise for The Hotel Under the Sand

“Wow! I read The Hotel Under the Sand with delight and joy. It’s wonderful, wacky and spooky, and serious and FUN. It also strikes me as utterly original (which is quite rare). In fact—although this is something one should always say with some caution—it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be a classic and went on down the ages along with Alice and Oz and the very few others that have become immortal.”
—Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl’s Moving Castle

“Full of humor and happiness, The Hotel Under the Sand was a pure joy to read . . . A comfort book that makes you feel good about yourself and universe on every page? Yep, this is it.”
The Little Red Reviewer

“Kage Baker’s The Hotel Under the Sand will grab you on page one and never let you go until you finish reading and beg for more. Young Emma is exactly the kind of little girl I wish I’d had for a sister and would love to have for a daughter. She’s smart, brave, and good. Her adventures are wonderful, her companions are amazing, and The Hotel Under the Sand will send you back to the bookshop to search for every Kage Baker book you can find.”
—Richard A. Lupoff, author of Marblehead

“I read it all in one sitting, enjoying the characters and the well-crafted plot very much, and want to read it soon to my granddaughters. Kage Baker used the fantasy structure with a light touch, reassuring but exciting, and the Wenlocke itself is a wonderful creation. Baker writes well without writing down to her young audience; in fact, she invites them to stretch and reach.”
—Cecilia Holland, author of Until the Sun Falls

“Possibly one of the sweetest, funniest, most original chapter books I’ve ever read.”
We Be Reading

“…charming…Baker’s first book for younger readers is a delight.”
Denver Post

“…skillfully written….”
Publishers Weekly

“Kage Baker is already well-known among adult readers for her science-fiction series The Company, but her new children’s book The Hotel Under the Sand is bound to win her plenty of new readers among the younger set.”

“Refreshingly original…. Although Baker is an established author of science fiction and fantasy for adults, this novel is written so naturally that it is difficult to believe
it is her debut for younger readers.”
VOYA Library Journal

“There are few books that I immediately want to press into the hands of other readers the instant I turn the last page. My copy of Hotel will be one that I hand to my daughter in a few years. First, however, I’m going to force it on everybody I know.”

“It’s exciting to come upon a book that serves not only as a great story to share with your kids, but one that has some undeniably unusual—and geeky—features.”

“…a strangely delightful story.”
Charlotte’s Library

The Hotel Under the Sand is the kind of book that you resolve to send to your nieces and nephews even before you have finished the first page.”
Reading the Leaves

“I just wanted more!”
Fantasy Book Critic

“I would strongly recommend it for fans of Roald Dahl and readers who are still young at heart.”
SF Crowsnest

Kage Baker is the author of The Company novels, her series of immortal, time-traveling cyborgs, including In the Garden of Iden, Mendoza in Hollywood, and The Sons of Heaven. Baker received the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon awards. She was passionately involved in the theater as an actor, director, playwright, and teacher of Elizabethan English as a second language, which she often used for research in her novels.

 Praise for Kage Baker

“She’s an edgy, funny, complex, ambitious writer with the mysterious, true gift of story-telling.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea

“Her style is infused with a subtle humor that had me chuckling…. She kept turning me in directions that I hadn’t expected.”
—Anne McCaffrey, author of Dragonsinger and Dragonsong

“Eccentric and often very funny…. Baker piles on such delights for anyone who wants more from fantasy than an epic journey to battle evil.”
Denver Post

Praise for The Company series

“A fresh, audacious, ambitious new voice, wry, jazzy, irreverent, sharp as a razor, full of daring, dash and élan, sometimes surprisingly lyrical. She is also one hell of a storyteller. If you’re reading something by Kage Baker, fasten your seat belt—you’re in for a wild ride.”
—Gardner Dozois, editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction

“An unusual mix of mortals, all-too-fallible immortals, a generous dollop of antic wit….”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Ms. Baker is the best thing to happen to modern science fiction since Connie Willis or Dan Simmons. She mixes adventure, history, and societal concerns in just the right amount, creating an action-packed but thoughtful read.”
Dallas News

“Historical detail and fast-paced action with a good dose of ironic wit and a dollop of bittersweet romance.”
Library Journal

“If there’s a better time-travel series out there, go find it.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Listen closely, and perhaps you will hear the collective sigh of delight from intelligent lovers of fantasy the world over.”

Visit the Kage Baker website.



Cleverness and bravery are absolutely necessary for good adventures.

Emma was a little girl both clever and brave, and destined — so you might think — to do well in any adventure that came her way. But the first adventure Emma had was dreadful.

One day a storm came and swept away everything that Emma had, and everything that Emma knew. When it had done all that, it swept away Emma too.

It might have been a storm with black winds, with thunder and lightning and rising waves. It might have been a storm with terrible anger and policemen coming to the door, and strangers, hospitals, courtrooms, and nightmares. It might have been a storm with soldiers, and fire, and hiding in cellars listening to shooting overhead. There are different kinds of storms.

But Emma faced the storm that swept over her, and found a way to save herself. She kept her head above water, and kept swimming even when she was tired. She didn’t think about all the things that might be in the dark. She didn’t drift, feeling sorry for herself. When she spotted a floating tree, she pushed herself to swim faster, and soon she caught up to it and was able to climb aboard.

She blew along on the angry water, clinging to a tree trunk, driven by the pitiless wind, but she held tight and kept her wits about her. After a long time she saw land, far away on the horizon.

As she sailed closer, Emma saw a golden wilderness of sand dunes, hills and mountains of bright sand. The wind kicked up plumes of it, whirling into the sky.

Soon she heard breakers crashing on the shore, and knew it was time to watch out. Whump! The tree trunk ran aground and Emma scrambled free, and crawled out of the waves on her hands and knees. The warm sand above the tide line felt nice, so she lay down there and rested awhile. Then she stood up and looked around her.

There was nothing to see but the dunes and the ocean. Emma found herself all alone, with nothing but the dress she had on, in a wilderness of shifting sands.

She wanted to cry, but Emma knew that if she started crying now for everyone and everything she had lost, she would never be able to stop crying. So she dusted herself off instead, and started walking away down the beach to explore. She had no idea where she was, but knew it must be close to where people lived, or had once lived, because she could see a double line of old pier pilings, worn down so far they looked like black broken teeth, stretching out across the low tide flat. And as she looked up and down the beach in both directions, she could see pieces of shipwrecks, littering the beach for miles.

Emma decided to climb up a sand dune. The dunes were quite high — much taller than they had looked from the open sea—and she thought that if she could look in every direction, she might see a town. She climbed and climbed, wading in the hot sand, up a ripple-sided mountain. But when she got to the top, all she could see, stretching away forever under the noonday sun, were more rippled mountains and steep sliding valleys of sand.

“These aren’t just sand dunes,” said Emma to herself. “These are the Dunes.”

She had once owned a book with pictures of the Dunes. It had said that the Dunes were far away, on a wild and lonely seacoast, very hard to find. Very little was known about them.

Was there water in the Dunes? Looking at the bright, dry sand, Emma realized that she was very, very thirsty.

As she stood up there in the wind and the sun, wondering what she ought to do, Emma heard a tiny peeping sound. It was just barely there, under the hiss of the wind and the roar of the sea, but it was there. Balancing carefully along the spine of the dune, she walked in the direction from which she supposed the sound was coming. The sound grew clearer, and Emma recognized it for the singing of frogs.

Where there are frogs, there must be water, thought Emma. She hurried along the dune and the sound got louder. She came over the top of the sand-hill, and saw below her a green place where a creek went winding down to the sea. Cattails grew there, and beach myrtles, and dune grass, and blackberry brambles. Emma slid down the high face of the dune and ran to the creek’s edge. The peeping of the frogs stopped at once, but Emma could see them now: they were perched all over the blackberry leaves, tiny froglets, green as emeralds and golden bronze, like jewelry scattered between the white flowers and black and red berries.

Emma cupped her hands and drank the clear water. When she had drunk all she wanted, she picked blackberries and ate them hungrily. The frogs hopped away from her hands to leaves farther away, but didn’t seem to mind that she was there otherwise.

Now that I have water, thought Emma, I’ d better make myself a house to live in. So she followed the creek back down to the beach, to where all the old shipwreck debris lay scattered. For the next hour she dragged planks and sheets of tin and fiberglass to the creekside, propping them up and leaning them together to make a sort of hut for herself.

During one trip down to the sea’s edge, she saw lots of little holes in the wet sand, just the shape of keyholes, and here and there a seagull poking its beak into the sand as though it was digging for something. She smiled to herself. Emma had lived beside the sea before, and she knew what the holes meant. There are clams under those holes, thought Emma, and I can dig some out to eat for dinner.

And that was what she did. When she had finished her house, she dug down with her hands, as the little waves rolled in and splashed her ankles, and caught the big slippery clams that were trying to get away from her by burrowing down deeper into the sand. Soon she had eight of them, like big glassy cobblestones, and she pried them open with a piece of broken boat propeller.

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