Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor takes its readers on a magical journey with familial love at its heart.
From the Blurb:
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.
When it comes to her sister Zosa, Jani was a very intense character. When her sister is hired, she breaks a dozen rules to join her in the hotel, and then sets off on a mission to dismantle the whole thing once she learns the truth of what is done to the staff. Her stubborness to see it through is her defining trait in this novel, but she is also kind, witty, and incredibly loyal so her character can only be inspiring. The way she bounced off the secondary characters only served to reinforce her positive traits while minimising her flaws.
Her chemistry with Bel was a standout throughout Hotel Magnifique as it grows from rivals to friends, to more. His character had some particularly poignant moments as well, especially as he learns to shed the hard exterior he uses to protect himself. His witty arguments with Jani were a welcome break from the building dread that Taylor created as the story progressed.
Emily J. Taylor builds a stunning environment in Hotel Magnifique. While she introduces her readers to a world of fantastical, decadent magic, she also hides enough hints to build this sense of unease early on. What Jani believed to be magic becomes an isolating experience the more she works there, which Taylor shows through Jani’s experiences, especially after her demotion. Taylor does a marvelous job building her world to be both atmospheric but maintain an edge, especially as we discover it alongside Jani through her first person POV.
Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor is written in a way to mirror its content. The descriptions are magical, with a lyrical prose that emphasises this. Despite the mystery surrounding the staff contracts, and the mounting dread, Taylor maintains a sense of hope up to the end. Her pacing is also good throughout. There are some lulls at times when Jani is trying to figure out her next move, but the novel never bored me. In fact, I flew through it for the most part as the mystery sucked me in.
Beyond the characters, or the writing, it’s siblings that are at the heart of Hotel Magnifique. Jani’s love for Zosa drives the novel, while Hellas’ and Alaistair’s relationships with their sisters are also pivotal. All three differ from each other, showing that even alienated siblings — ones who betrayed each other — can still hold a spark of affection.
Overall Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor was an enjoyable and intriguing story. Jani is a stubborn yet loving and witty protagonist to follow, Bel’s melancholy is balanced out by his moments with Jani, and the secondary characters all have something that makes them stand out. The way Taylor resolves the mystery took me by surprise but I found the ending incredibly fitting for what the novel represented.