Grimm by Mike Nicholson
If you have the misfortune to spend a night at Hotel Grimm, it may be the last one you spend anywhere! Or so the residents of Aberfintry believe. From its vantage point high above the town, the hotel has long been the source of dead guests and terrifying stories.
When eleven-year-old Rory McKenna becomes an overnight advertising sensation for a brand of Cola, Hotel Grimm's mysterious owner, Granville Grimm, presents Rory with the task of giving his hotel a new image. Refusal is not an option...
Can Rory triumph again, or will he become Hotel Grimm's next victim? Full of unexpected twists and turns, surprising allies and things that go bump in the night, Rory's life is about to get very complicated.
The story in Grimm follows Rory McKenna, an eleven year old boy, as he tries to help the owner of Hotel Grimm by attempting to change people's perceptions of the place. The trouble is their views are quite entrenched and the reputation of the hotel is grim to say the least (pun intended).
Through the story Rory gets to meet an array of 'interesting' people associated with the hotel as well as making a new friend Bonnie. In fact friendship is one of the central themes of the story. For at the start if the story, due to Rory's success as the marketing genius that helped make Zizz Cola the number 1 fizzy drink in the market, he seems to be somewhat of an isolated figure. The other children in school see him as something 'different' and he is a target for the local bullies. Generally he is known as 'Zizz boy' by the other children.
The other main theme in this story is about being judgemental. Hotel Grimm is unfairly branded as a dangerous place, the people in it and associated with it weird and dangerous, anyone who is a bit different is treated with scorn and prejudice (Bonnie, the girl who befriends Rory is in a wheelchair and likes reading, she is known as 'worm' by the other children).
Rory, at the start of the story is mostly like the other people he associates with and sees Hotel Grimm as a scary place, but gradually he comes to see past the obvious and look a bit more deeply, and more importantly stop believing what everyone expects him to believe and sees the people at Hotel Grimm for what they are: kind people.
This story came to my attention because it was nominated for the 'Hidden Gems' award for the end of year #SundayMorningBookBlether awards. I am really glad it was nominated because it truly is a gem. It was first published in 2008 and although Mike Nicholson has gone on to write other successful books, he feels this is one that got away. It never really got the fanfare it deserved; I have to say I agree with him. This is a fantastic story with real depth to it.
At first, when reading the story, it just felt like a regular funny story with some quirky characters but as I got drawn into the story and became invested in the characters I saw the real 'hidden gem' of the meaning of it. This story tells us that we shouldn't judge people by what they look like or what we have been told about them, we should look with our own eyes make our own judgements. It also shows the value of friendship as the relationships between the characters is truly touching.
Sadly, physical copies of Grimm are no longer in print from the publisher although you can get an ebook copy from them. If you want to get a physical copy you can order from Mike Nicholson's website. Links for both are below for anyone who wants to check out this 'Hidden Gem' for themselves. I can thoroughly recommend it.