One of my most anticipated new releases for Spring, was Hotel Magnifique. The hotel, where the story takes place, is magical. It shows up for just on day every and doesn’t repeat destinations for ten years. Once inside the hotel, patrons will get to experience two weeks of pure fantasy. The only catch is that you forget everything once you go back home. When the hotel shows up, Jani and her sister take jobs at the hotel and soon start to realize that all the glitter and enchantments are hiding a dark secret.
I’ve seen a few other books compared to Caraval and while I don’t always find that to be an accurate comparison, for Hotel Magnifique, it works. Like Caraval, this story has a mix of Alice in Wonderland surrealism mixed with dark undertones. I’ll be honest though I liked Caraval much better than this one.
While the story is unique and the imagery is vivid, the pacing of the story is off. The first half of the book was repetitive, as Jani starts to initially uncover the hotel’s secrets. The story picks up halfway through, but then ends rather abrupt. In addition there are some revelations that could have been cleaner, as it felt that they were just all getting dumped on the reader at the same time.
Having strong characters is really important to me in fantasy books and I find their development sets the tone for the story. Unfortunately, I didn’t find myself connected to any of the characters, and felt that more time could have been spent on character development. Jani was pretty ‘blah’ for me but we also don’t get to know too many other characters except on a superficial level. Even the main romance in the story felt pieced together and not entirely natural. In addition, the lack of magical development or more information around the magic system was also a huge detractor for me.
The story itself is unique and I can appreciate the vividness of the descriptions. I just needed more from the plot, the characters, and the magic system. This one definitely reads as a YA read and would be good for younger teens who enjoy a darker fantasy story.