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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
A Night at the King’s Inn by Alec Arbogast is time travel that introduces readers to an unusually interesting character, Theodore, a guy who likes to go unnoticed and who loves to keep to himself. The reader immediately feels his anti-social nature as they encounter him in the story. Accepting his sister’s invitation to an ultra-exclusive speakeasy in Manhattan’s West Village is one thing that is about to change him and reveal something about him that he never knew. Pulling the lever of an aberrant-looking gramophone at the event, the world around him shimmers and then peels away into splintered light, and he finds himself transported through a portal into a posh hotel and into a masquerade ball in twentieth-century England. The adventure will involve a coquettish young woman, cocktails, and a world that is as seductive as it is dangerous. Can he face his inner demons and rise up to the mystery unfolding before him?
A Night at the King’s Inn is well-plotted and written in prose that is exceptional. The descriptions are terrific and the imagery is captivating. The author transports readers to a completely new world and I enjoyed how the effects that vintage items have on the protagonist are portrayed, an experience revealing of the mystery that he is in. Character development is impeccable. When we meet Theodore, he is someone who does not feel comfortable in the world he lives in, and apart from being close to his younger sister, Alice, one immediately has an image of a terribly lonely person. His transformation as he transitions to another world, time and epoch is interesting.
Alec Arbogast establishes himself as a great storyteller, creating scenes that are surreal yet making them feel as though they were part of the reader’s world, thanks to the author’s ability to write settings that are believable and characters that are extraordinary. The social and economic settings are skillfully written. The writing brims with wonderful imagery, bringing the setting to life. “The city does have a capricious charm … with its dizzying patchwork of old and new…” and Alec makes this charm boldly visible to the reader’s mental gaze. This is one of the best books I have read on time travel; well-paced, intelligently plotted and executed with skill.