Excerpt from Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Hotel Magnifique

by Emily J. Taylor

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor X
Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor
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  • Published:
    Apr 2022, 400 pages

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Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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Excerpt
Hotel Magnifique

I often heard my sister before I saw her, and tonight was no exception. Zosa's supple voice spilled through the open window of Bézier Residence, sounding so like our mother's—at least until she began a raunchier ditty comparing a man's more delicate anatomy to a certain fruit.

I crept inside, unnoticed in the crowd of boarders. Two of the younger girls pretended to dance with invisible partners, but every other eye was fixed on my sister, the most talented girl in the room.

A special kind of girl rented rooms at Bézier Residence. Almost all worked jobs fitting of their foul mouths: second shifts as house grunts, factory workers, grease cooks, or any number of ill-paying positions in the vieux quais—old docks of Durc. I worked at Tannerie Fréllac, where women huddled over crusted alum pots and wells of dye. But Zosa was different.

"Happy birthday," I shouted when her song ended.

"Jani!" She bounded over. Her huge brown eyes shone against a pale, olive-skinned face that was far too thin.

"Did you eat supper?" I'd left her something, but with all the other girls around, food had a tendency to disappear.

She groaned. "Yes. You don't have to ask me every night."

"Of course I do. I'm your big sister. It's my life's greatest duty." Zosa scrunched her nose and I flicked it. Fishing in my sack, I pulled out the newspaper that had cost me half a day's wage and pressed it into her palms. "Your present, madame." Here, birthdays weren't dusted with confectioners' sugar; they were hard-won and more dear than gold.

"A newspaper?"

"A jobs section." I flipped open the paper with a sly grin.

Inside were advertisements for jobs in fancy dress shops, patisseries, and perfumeries, positions that would never belong to a thirteen-year-old who didn't look a day over ten. Luckily, they weren't what I had in mind.

Skipping past them, I pointed to a listing that had appeared in papers across town an hour ago.

The ink was vibrant purple, like Aligney blood poppies or crushed amethyst velvet. It stood out, a strange beacon in a sea of black and white.

Hotel Magnifique is hiring. Interested parties inquire tomorrow at noon. Pack a bag for Elsewhere & prepare to depart by midnight.

The girls crowded around us, and everyone leaned in as the purple ink winked with an iridescence that rivaled polished moonstones.

No address was given. The legendary hotel needed none. It appeared every decade or so in the same old alley downtown. The whole city was probably there now, already waiting like fools for a chance at a stay.

Years ago, when the hotel last made an appearance, the majority of the invitations were delivered beforehand to only the wealthiest citizens. Then, the day the hotel arrived, a few more precious invitations were gifted to random folk in the crowd. Our matron, Minette Bézier, was one of those lucky few.

That midnight, the guests stepped into the hotel and disappeared, along with the building. Two weeks later, they famously stepped back, appearing in the same alley from nothing but thin air.

My fingers twitched and I pictured cracking the seal on my own invitation. But even if we were fortunate enough to win one, we'd still have to pay for a room—and they weren't exactly cheap.

Zosa's brows drew together. "You want me to interview?"

"Not quite. I'm going to interview. I'm taking you to audition as a singer."

It had been four years since I'd taken her to a singing audition—the first one hadn't worked out in our favor, and I couldn't stomach going through it again, so we didn't try for more. But today was her birthday and this was the Hotel Magnifique. Everything about it felt different. Perfect, somehow. "Hotels hire singers all the time. What do you say?"

Excerpted from Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor. Copyright © 2022 by Emily J. Taylor. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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