Check-out Time isn’t Coming to Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor (book review)
GENRE: YA Fantasy
LENGTH: 391 pages
PLOT Jani and her younger sister Zosa take jobs at the legendary, magical, moving hotel known as the titular Hotel Magnifique. Jani soon discovers the hotel may be amazing on the surface but it hides a dark underbelly.
I had mixed feelings when it comes to the main character, Jani. She loves her sister dearly and wants to help the hotel's other employees, but she is stubborn and reckless. Her actions (unintentionally) got a lot of innocent people hurt. If this happened once and she became more careful afterwards then that would be one thing. However, she never really seemed to learn her lesson. I definitely had sympathy for her, but she could be frustrating.
Bel is a longtime employee of the hotel who is the one responsible for moving it every night. He is Jani's only real ally within the hotel walls and keeps her from being entirely isolated. The two gradually develop feelings for each other. He's very kind and supportive. Like Jani he takes risks when it comes to his job, but his are much more calculated.
There are three antagonistic characters in the novel. There is Des Reves and Yrsa, who are also hotel employees, but both are under the main villain, the maitre Alastair. The two women are more intimidating than Alastair (and especially Yrsa), but I'd argue that's because they're more present on the page. Also, Alastair may be the one barking the orders, but they are the ones carrying them out with cold efficiency.
The novel is told through the first person perspective of Jani though there is an epilogue told through a third person perspective of an unspecified narrator. One really cool thing that the mixed-media lover in me squealed about was how hotel related documents (itinerary, invitations, job ads, etc.) appear as they would to the characters (albeit black and white). Things like this, especially in a fantasy novel, can add to the immersive reading experience. See below for an example:
The book's magic system is pretty simple. People who can harness magic are known as suminaires. They can channel their magic through artefacts which can be literally anything such as Alastair's inkwell used on the staff and guest contracts. Magic outside the hotel can be dangerous, but the allure of the hotel is that within its walls it is safe.
While the magic may be easy to understand the way it's executed is extravagant and spectacular. The hotel's atmosphere is darkly enchanting. I like the juxtaposition of the experience of the guests (one of wonder) verses that of the staff (horror). If I lived in this world then you know I'd be one of the people clamoring for an invitation for a stay or applying for a job there.
This novel is a standalone. Things are quickly revealed to be wrong with the staff early onto Jani's employment. However, there are several late in the novel reveals that are well foreshadowed early in the novel. I became increasingly intrigued as the plot thickened. Yet he ending itself was a tad odd and didn't seem to entirely fit with the characters we come to know.
I feel like this would be a fun book to take with you to read on vacation (for obvious reasons). Even though Jani wasn't my favorite protagonist the setting and plot more than made up for it. If you're in the market for a fantasy standalone then this one is worth checking out.
FINAL RATING: 4⭐️