BookBrowse Reviews Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

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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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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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A beautiful and dark debut young adult fantasy novel that will take readers on an unexpected journey behind the doors of a mysterious hotel.

A golden ticket or a gilded cage? Seventeen-year-old Jani and her younger sister Zosa are not sure what they will find behind the doors of the Hotel Magnifique, but they know it must be better than their lives in Durc. Stories of magic and wonder inside the hotel are legendary, and it only stays in one place for a night before moving on to "Elsewhere" to draw more of the world's wealthiest guests. Since their mother passed away, Jani has been working at the tannery while caring for Zosa, trying to scrape up enough money for them to return to their home in Aligney. When the mysterious Hotel Magnifique arrives in Durc for one night only, Jani hopes that she and Zosa can both get jobs that will change their lives. But they have no idea what awaits them after their contracts are signed and they make it into the hotel in the nick of time to get swept up in its adventures Elsewhere.

After they enter the hotel, things start to seem strange to Jani. While the guests experience enchantments beyond their wildest imaginings, from magical rooms to magnificent soirees to a new surprise destination every morning, there is something much darker happening amongst the hotel staff. When she becomes separated from Zosa, Jani stumbles onto dark secrets about Alastair, the hotel maître. He is considered the most powerful sumnaire, or magic user, in the world, and he uses his skills to make magic within the walls of the Hotel Magnifique. As the situation in the hotel grows increasingly dark, Jani learns secrets about herself and her family that become the only protection she has in this formidable new world. With no allies except for Bel, the hotel's doorman, Jani must learn what Alastair is hiding, and find a way to save not only herself and Zosa, but everyone else who works at the hotel as well.

Emily J. Taylor's debut young adult novel is a breathtaking fantasy with a dark edge that will tantalize the imaginations of people new to the genre as well as those who have already read widely within it. The hotel itself is beautifully realized, as are the characters who populate its rooms and halls. Focalized through Jani's point of view, the world Taylor has built is filled with diversity of appearance, class and sexuality, which adds depth to the fantasyscape and makes the hotel's journey across this magical world feel more believable. The magic evokes the decadence of La Belle Epoque and the Gilded Age, but in ways that are seamlessly integrated into the atmosphere. The relationships between Jani and other characters, including Zosa, Bel and the rest of the hotel staff, are well balanced and emotionally driven, continuously adding to the stakes of the plot without becoming overwrought. Though the novel at times suffers from pacing issues — too fast in some areas and dwelling a little too long on descriptive moments in others — strong worldbuilding, a fascinating narrative and emotionally engaging characters will keep readers interested to see if Jani makes it home with Zosa, and where that home actually proves to be.

This review first ran in the May 4, 2022 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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