The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

MY RATING : ★★ (4.4)

Since Lullaby for Little Criminals, I loved Heather O’Neill’s writing. And the fact that the author is from Montreal made me even more proud 😀

The marketing campaign compared it to The Night Circus. Alright. Let’s get this straight. I’m sorry but this has NOTHING to do with The Night Circus. Yes I’ve read it and you can read my review for that book here.


I’d say this novel is more like The Series of Unfortunate Events – Adult Version. Rose and Pierrot are two orphans from the most unfortunate circumstances. The first part of the book is how they live in the orphanage, the raw difficulty and hard times from that period: child abuse and violence. It’s not an easy read, that’s for sure.


Since the 1st page, the author set the mood straight. She’s telling the readers how horrible humans can be towards children. I read a lot of reviewers who gave this book a low rating for the child abuse theme expecting it to be a Young Adult fantasy. Once again, due to the marketing’s mistake people already built their expectations for the book and once they read about something that’s not supposed to go with their expectations they find it bad.


I think there’s nothing bad about mentioning child abuse and violence, it’s how the author delivers her message that counts. In my opinion, you don’t get to decide if it’s not right or to not talk about it. Au contraire, I think people should talk a lot more about the inhuman things out there, so readers can know about the real world. Back to the novel,  the author had a goal with the book and everything she wrote made sense in the end. So I’m going to just leave you on this : this book is not a cute little young adult fantasy, this can be considered a psychological thriller. You have to trust the author. Because the journey she’s going to take you to will be a memorable one.


The character development with the two protagonists is exquisite. We have Rose, the fierce and fearless girl and Pierrot the sensitive and lighthearted piano prodigy. They make such a unique duo. Life will throw at them every difficulty that there is and seeing them grow separately will make for an exceptional reunion. The side characters are also an interesting set. They will shape and influence the protagonist’s behavior in the most twisted and unexpected ways. Imagine living in 90s in Montreal, prostitution and drugs roam the streets. Our duo has to make a living out of that filthy life and society as much as they can.



It’s a shame that I can’t spoil anything else but I think this is one of the novels whose ending is the most satisfying to me. Not in terms of Mind-blowing plot twists, but in terms of plot device and development. The author shows us you don’t need fireworks and suspense to end a book. You need a witty and clever direction.

YES. I would recommend it with all of my hearts. Although keep in mind it’s not for the lighthearted people 😉 Do not expect real magic. Do not be fooled by the reverie appearance of the book. Expect boldness. Expect badass women. Expect  subversion and wonder. It’s a bittersweet journey about lunatic nuns, two orphans with extraordinary minds and a most-anticipated- reunion.



24 thoughts on “The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

  1. Beautiful review as always! This is definitely not what I would take away from marketing. I have to admit that I am a bit tired of seeing titles compared to The Night Circus. This has happened several times lately with marketing.. sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh!!! I’m now more eager to read this. And I’m glad you cleared up that like the Night Circus mention. I learned my lesson from Caraval so I try not to expect much when books are marketed as like the Night Circus. I think I’ll enjoy this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YEAH! The Night Circus is like.. Everyone’s favourite so they keep using it to lure us in LOL which is not coool because I didn’t find anything like The Night Circus yet 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy it it’s definitely different and dark 🙆


  3. Fantastic review… and I dislike how the marketing for books is done… I never like seeing the comparisons on the cover: next GRRM, or next Twilight, or whatever. It’s a trick and a trap!

    I also agree that as readers and observers we shouldn’t shy away from inhuman things. In a way, inhuman things are what makes us human. What a paradox, but a fact, I think. I shall check this book out in the future once I have lifted my book buying ban! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review for this book Trang. I’ll admit when you mentioned this book had been compared to The Night Circus I got a little excited because I loved that book, and I was a little disappointed when you said there wasn’t much comparison between the two. But then you said it was like an adult version of A Series of Unfortunate Events and I got really excited again because that’s another series I love! 😀
    I’m really glad to see you enjoyed this book, it sounds really good as well (I love the quote you included) so I’m definitely going to be adding this one to my to-read list!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah okay, it’s good to know going in that it’s not anything like Night Circus (I get really irritated by misleading marketing campaigns- it can easily ruin books for me) I’m so glad you did this review and cleared that up before I’d even heard of it, because it sounds like such a good book! And I completely agree with you that there’s nothing bad about mentioning child abuse- especially since it exists in the real world.


  6. I get really mad now when publishers market a book wrong, ever since my friend Lindsay Starck had a novel published by Putnam, a big press, that was classified incorrectly at Amazon. Because the book is titled Noah’s Wife and is a VERY loose retelling of the story of Noah’s Arc, Amazon placed it under Christian fiction. So, people who don’t read Christian fiction won’t pick it up, and Christians who read it feel duped.


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