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From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1)

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A woman is sent to a scary hotel for a rest cure after losing her child in this historical Gothic romance about oppression, grief, and time.

Halloween might be over, but there are plenty of horror writers making sure that we stay scared all year long, including Jennifer Anne Gordon--author of From Daylight to Madness (The Hotel #1). Gordon's novel is an old-style creepy Gothic romance, set on isolated Dagger Island off the coast of Maine in 1873.


We meet the book's main character, Isabelle, at a horrendously tragic moment in her life: she's just given birth to a son, but the boy only lives for three minutes. In classic "The Yellow Wallpaper" fashion, Isabelle's husband and mother-in-law lash out against her with cruel misogyny. They blame her for the child's death, insist that she's not grieving correctly (i.e. not crying enough), and drug her with laudanum to such an extent that Isabelle feels like she's disconnected from time. Eventually, they decided to send Isabelle to an island hotel for a rest cure, but she suspects they're secretly sending her off to an asylum.


The hotel is bizarre and oppressive. Isabelle hears baby cries and discovers multiple child-size fresh graves on the island. Her tea here is also drugged, and everyone keeps telling her that she's tired and needs to rest more. The only real light is a disgraced priest named Francis, who tries to help Isabelle. But as they develop a budding romance, it's clear that Francis also has secrets of his own.


From Daylight to Madness is a slow-burn mystery, filled with lyrical descriptive writing and atmospheric scene setting. Gordon excellently explores historical themes of feminism and women's oppression in the marriage and medical spheres, as well as offering pointed ruminations about the nature of time--how things like grief or addiction can fundamentally change how we perceive the world around us. There are some lingering copy editing issues in this manuscript regarding tenses, but the high quality of the writing makes up for it overall. And, luckily for readers invested in Isabelle and Francis' unfinished story, the cliffhanger ending of this book sets up a sequel.

Reviewed by

Michelle Hogmire is a West Virginian writer with an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. She's the co-founder of the Appalachian social justice publication The Haint. Her work has been featured in BOMB, KGB Bar Lit Mag, and Columbia Journal. She's currently finishing her first book in Chicago.

Prologue 1873

About the author

JENNIFER ANNE GORDON is a professional ballroom dancer by day, and a curly haired neurotic writer by night. She is an actor, a traveler, a photographer, a lover of horror, and a dog mom. She is the Author of Beautiful, Frightening and Silent, as well as the artist of the Victoriana: Mixed Media Art view profile

Published on August 20, 2020

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Horror

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