The Gold Persimmon

Creature. Oct. 2021. 274p. ISBN 9781951971052. pap. $16. HORROR
DEBUT NOVEL In Merbaum’s ferociously inventive full-length debut, Cly is a check-in girl at the Gold Persimmon, a hotel whose soundproofed rooms provide space for guests to indulge their grief in privacy. The job’s strict adherence to hotel procedure and rules provides the bland regularity Cly requires. In a separate reality, Jaime, a nonbinary writer, has arrived at a sex hotel called the Red Orchid to interview for a job. IReaders first follow Cly as her routine is disrupted by a mysterious guest, then experience Jaime’s terror as the Red Orchid is enveloped in an inexplicable fog that leaves them and a handful of hotel guests and employees fighting to survive both their improbable circumstance and each other. Uniting these storylines is a keen examination of human connection, fragility, and survival, both physical and psychological, told in elegant and heartbreaking prose.
VERDICT The characters are captivating, the drama compelling, and the atmosphere haunting. When this fever dream of a ride is over, readers will get back in line to go again.
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