Review: Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe

Finishing out October with the continuation of the Bunnicula series.  Was pretty busy the last few days of October, so I’m finishing up the reviews in November. 🙂


First there is the omen: A relentless rain stops suddenly at 3:00 am and Chester shows Harold and Howie a cat carrier, open and waiting, by the front door. Chester, who has been reading avidly about the paranormal, predicts that they will soon be traveling someplace, and chances are they are not going to like it. Indeed they are not, as the very next day, with the sun shining bright and clear, the Monroes finally leave for their vacation, dropping Chester, Harold, and Howie off at the scene of some previous harrowing experiences — Chateau Bow-Wow, the boarding kennel that Chester so aptly had dubbed “Howliday Inn.”

And this visit promises to be no less harrowing than the last one. The three are greeted by a whole new group of temporary residents. There’s Hamlet, the Great Dane, whose sadness grows deeper with his certainty that his beloved master Archie will never return to pick him up. And Bob and Linda, a pair of yuppie puppies from fashionable Upper Centerville who have been left at Chateau Bow-Wow with a more than adequate supply of gourmet treats, also seem to have been left with a more than adequate supply of worries. Then there are Felony and Miss Demeanor, sinister sisters in crime who pride themselves as cat burglars, and The Weasel who tries almost too hard to make a good impression.

Chester is certain that nothing bodes well and he is right. Unexplained voices, buried bones, a collar with the name Rosebud on it, and a secret code all make for a paranormal experience that none of the guests at Chateau Bow-Wow will ever forget.

Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe.  Book # 5 in the Bunnicula series.  Illustrated by Alan Daniel.  Originally published in 1992, my edition is the Avon Camelot 1993 edition.

Again we have a story were Bunnicula is left out.  Seriously, how do you have a series where the title character is left out of the book?  We do see him for a few seconds before the rest of the pets get taken to the Howliday Inn.  What I don’t get, is that in this story, the boarding place now excepts other pets as well as cats and dogs.  There is a bird and a weasel staying there.  So why couldn’t the vampire bunny go too? *sigh*

Even though Bunnicula is not in this one, I enjoyed this return trip to Howliday Inn better then the first trip there back in book 2, Howliday Inn.  I enjoyed the other guests a lot more, and there was a ghost dog that showed up.  The characters were a lot of fun and really made this story.  It was a unique crew of pets and it was pretty cool getting to see other pets besides just cats and dogs.  Once again, I was not in love with the young pup, Howie.  I know he is there for comic relief, but, boy, a little of him goes a long way…  maybe you have to be a kid to enjoy him? I don’t know… I don’t remember him from when I was little and reading these books, so I can’t say for sure.

Yes, it’s true, this story was good…. but holy crap was it dark and depressing!! Ok, without any spoiler details, here are some of the themes this book discussed:  pets getting too old to live anymore,  a pet getting “the big sleep”,  owners dying and never coming back for their pet, pets not being wanted anymore, loneliness from the pet, loneliness from the owners, the owner being unable to care for the pet even though they love them.  Once the big twist arrived, this book got DARK.  Geez, Mr. Howe.  What the hell?? A very sad book.  Yes, it did end up having a happy ending, but still, you had to go through a lot of depressing stuff to get there!

The illustrations are done by Alan Daniel.  His work is nice.  The animals were super cute! I wished the contrasting shadows between the pets had been a little bit stronger though, because sometimes the pets blend in a little too much.


I did like this book, and it was entertaining.  However, with no Bunnicula and the overwhelmingly depressing topics, I did not care for at all.  I personally felt like this story was a little bit too sad and that took some of the enjoyment away for me.





2 thoughts on “Review: Return to Howliday Inn by James Howe

  1. I know!! I’ve been pretty surprised at the level of depressing stuff going on in this series. It is still a good series, a few are a little rough to read because of it being a little sad, but they are all entertaining.

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