The Kretcher Hotel opened it’s doors in Atlanta in the 1960’s. It’s a rundown place in the slums of the city surrounded by prostitutes, drug dealers and any kind of crime you can imagine. Some people say that the Kretcher Hotel was built by the devil himself. Bad things happen there and some say its cursed. In charge of the hotel is Sybline Kretcher, a six-foot 4 woman with a long dark past and a personality that can’t be controlled by Satan himself.
The Kretcher Hotel is a place where anything goes. Within its walls are suicidal men, evil monsters, witches, a succubus looking for redemption, thieves, addicts and any other abominations you can imagine. The Kretcher Hotel is a place surrounded by evil, but people also go there for redemption.
Forever Vacancy is an anthology of 13 horror stories that all feature diverse characters that you don’t see in most horror anthologies. The setting of a broken down hotel is a perfect place for a horror anthology and that comes across loud and clear in the story The Thing In Room 204 by C. W. Blackwell. It begins with a cloaked man being led to the hotel by a mysterious man. There is a mystery as to what is going on here which is made more complicated by the prostitute on the street. Another good story is The Honeymoon Suite: Jacob’s Reunion by Sumiko Saulson which is about a grief-stricken man who is trying to make the choice between being consumed by the bitterness of loosing someone, the need for revenge and wanting the chance for forgiveness.
My favorite story in this book is Salvation by Ross Baxter. This story follows a succubus who wants to find salvation after centuries of taking the souls of men. She goes to a priest for salvation, but is the priest strong enough to resist her and give her the help she needs? What I liked about this one was how offended the priest is when he sees how Sybline acts towards him and how sure he is of himself before being given the ultimate test. I also liked the idea that despite how evil the succubus is, she still hopes to change her ways.
I loved the concept behind Forever Vacancy. This is a book where each story has the same location and one character in common. I loved how Sybline shows so much depth of character even though she is a small part of each story. In some stories Sybline shows herself as being cold and uncaring but in others she proves that she is helping the protagonists. Sybline may be working for the devil but she has a mind of her own and does as she pleases. Every story in this book is fast paced and filled with gruesome situations in a dark setting. This is the kind of book that all horror fan should read because it’s a great example of how good horror stories can be. I would love to see a series of books based on this setting. Despite the desolation of the location there are still souls in search of redemption and that is what makes this anthology good.