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.
Being swept away into a dazzling magical hotel that travels around the world should immediately mean that I loved this book, but I felt that the hotel itself and the places they travelled came second to the main character being really, really annoying.
Jani was extremely self centred and lacks empathy, only ever thinking about herself and her own feelings. There was never a moment where she stopped to think about how her sister might be feeling. On top of that she’s prone to wild declarations that Bel has no feelings for her, despite him putting his whole entire ass on the line to save her over and over again.
This story seemed to have a basic formula. Jani would be told not to do something, which she would then simply do anyway, and then Bel or someone else would have to get her out of that situation before she found herself short of an eye. When she wasn’t doing that she was badgering people repeatedly for information they weren’t willing to give some girl that turned up yesterday.
The world building was loose at best, as the story only focused on Jani’s search for answers about the hotel, and somehow the hotel wasn’t really fully fleshed out either. There were so many unique and interesting characters that weren’t Jani that could have told the story better, and instead I had to put up with this annoying girl.