Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

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Hotel Magnifique

by Emily J. Taylor

eARC,

Published April 5th 2022 by Razorbill

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

For fans of Caraval and The Night Circus, this decadent and darkly enchanting YA fantasy, set against the backdrop of a Belle Époque-inspired hotel, follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique.

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.

I received an eARC from publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in anyway.

Trigger warning: death of a mother, dismemberment, blood, murder

WHAT I LIKED

  • The setting and the magic are amazing. It’s been a while since I’m so immersed in a setting and in awe of the magic. If you’re reading Hotel Magnifique expecting The Night Circus level of wonder, you’re in for a treat. We’re spending most of the story inside the hotel so we got to explore it with rooms full of wonder such as honeymoon and forest suite and teacups that will always warm your water. The magic is a bit vague at first but all got explained very well in the end.
  • The mystery of the hotel pulls everyone in for a stay and the intrigue doesn’t disappoint! Soon as Jani stepped into the hotel lobby, her curiosity means she quickly discovers that there’s something wrong with the hotel. The story then slowly peels down the layer of rotten secrets of the hotel and it’s so satisfying to guess what actually happened.
  • It’s not afraid to get dark. This book is marketed as YA but I’d say it’s darker than The Night Circus. The villains were not afraid to dismember anyone who disobeys and there’s raw desperation with Jani and Bel’s attempt to uncover the secrets of the hotel.
  • I’ll be honest and say I enjoyed the side characters more than our main characters 👀 There’s Beatrice, the head of maids with such a big heart and caring nature taking care of her maids; there’s Zosa with her playful nature; as well as Hellas and Frigga who I wished got to see more.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • Our main character Jani really ruins the book for me 😬 She’s hot headed and very self centered; despite framing her decision as “for Zosa” it’s very obvious she did things for herself? She never asked whether Zosa wanted to move to the city or not, and it was later revealed she moved them to Durc because she wanted to earn money to live “somewhere more exciting”. She forced Bel to take her into the hotel due to fear of being left behind (and jealousy tbh), knowingly risking Zosa’s chance of working at the hotel. Then despite repeated warning and proof to not do anything reckless, she kept poking left and right and stormed into places she shouldn’t be.
  • I love inquisitive characters, but when that curiosity made other characters got killed or harmed and our main character still did not learn, that’s when I drew the line.
  • The other main character, Bel, was intriguing but in the end he felt underdeveloped. As part of the mysterious hotel and someone who’s very lenient on Jani he carries his own intrigue. But we never learned about his past, nor his motive. How long has he been on the hotel? Secretly trying to uncover Alistair’s motive? What other artefacts could he wield? Where is he from? None of the questions were ever answered so we had to settle with ~the mysterious and loving Bel~

Believe me when I said there’s no one more disappointed than me when at 30% mark I realized this book didn’t work for me. While it was dark, intriguing with enchanting magical setting that will immerse you in the story, the main character really frustrates me. As something that could make or break the story, unfortunately in this instance it break the story for me. While it didn’t work for me, it could still be a new favorite of yours if you’re looking for something magical and intriguing to read.


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