The Invisible Hotel

Yeji Y. Ham

A startling work of literary horror about a young woman whose frightening dreams recall the long afterlife of a country’s shared trauma.





Page count




Sale date

March 5, 2024


5.5 x 8.25

About the Book

Yewon dreams of a hotel. In the hotel, there are infinite keys to infinite rooms—and a quiet terror she is desperate to escape. When Yewon wakes, she sees her life: a young woman, out of her job at a convenience store, trapped in the tiny South Korean village of her birth, watching her mother wash the bones of their ancestors in their decrepit bathtub. Every house has them, these rotting and fragmented bones, reminders of what they have all lost to a war that never seems to end. Yewon and her siblings were born in this bathtub—and every year women give birth to new babies in the bathtub.

Now, Yewon’s brother is stationed near the North Korean border, her sister has just undergone a life-changing tragedy, and her mother is constantly worried, her health declining. In crisis and in stasis, Yewon’s dreams of the decrepit hotel lead her to an unsettling truth about her country’s collective heritage.

A work of literary horror in the gothic tradition, The Invisible Hotel is a startling, speculative tale of political and ideological adolescence in the long afterlife of the Korean War. Recalling international trailblazers like Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory PoliceThe Invisible Hotel marks the arrival of a singular new voice with a sharp social acumen.


“This ethereal debut novel, at once a horror story and a bird’s bone–delicate exploration of trauma, is filled with ghosts . . . Yewon’s running monologue is straight-laced, but Ham somehow conjures up a delicious tension among her lead’s longing to become something, the little tragedies unfolding around her, and the spooky aftereffects of the Korean War . . . An intriguing debut.”

- Kirkus Reviews

“Yeji Y. Ham’s debut novel, The Invisible Hotel, is about the inescapable. The conflict between North and South Korea, simmering still beneath a fragile truce, looms as the perpetual backdrop for this contemporary tale about the fears that are dutifully passed from one generation to the next . . . The Invisible Hotel is itself a strange dream.”

- The Chicago Review of Books

The Invisible Hotel is a deceptively challenging read in how it moves in and out of different registers. At one moment, it’s a realistic coming-of-age tale; in the next, it veers into dreamlike Gothic horror. And yet that dissonance appears to be the point of the story being told: that living in close proximity (both literally and metaphorically) can create its own sort of horror and transform even the most quotidian moments into something best analyzed through dream logic.”

- Tobias Carrol, Reactor magazine

The Invisible Hotel wrestles artfully with big, vital questions: How do we honor and care for our elders without reinforcing a cycle of generational trauma? How do we forge new, joyful paths without indulging in mass cultural amnesia or closing our eyes to a world on fire? That it does so in a surreal, riveting, keep-the-lights-on masterwork of horror is all the more extraordinary. I will be haunted by this book for years to come.”

- Kim Fu, author of Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

“How does a war play out in a person, a family, and through generations? The Invisible Hotel asks this ambitious and heartbreaking question. In prose that is sharp, clear, and startling, Yeji Y. Ham articulates the struggle to navigate trauma, and find joy, in the aftermath of the Korean War. This book is spectacular—a horror story made into art by way of unsettling truths.”

- Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal and The Bear

“Yeji Y. Ham’s The Invisible Hotel is an absolute fever dream—a book that explores, with haunted grace and magical wildness, the inescapable ghosts of a fractured, heartbroken country, and one woman’s relentless quest to rush headlong into the labyrinths and mysteries that make up her family. What a thrill to read this: propulsive, electric, full of fury and ecstatic writing, you won’t be able to put this one down.”

- Paul Yoon, author of The Hive and the Honey

“The Invisible Hotel traps us in a haunting labyrinth where the wounds of war gape open, bones tether, and the bond of family may be the one key to set us free. Yeji Y. Ham has crafted a luminously spellbinding narrative, knitting history, grief, and love to explore the knots that tie a family and a country.”

- Gerardo Sámano Córdova, author of Monstrilio