Storytime with Sophie: Hotel Magnifique


Sophie Barkett

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Imagine the moving, interactive interior of Hogwarts combined with the magic of Shadow and Bone, and you get Emily J. Taylors: Hotel Magnifique. This novel was released on April 5th, and is described as young adult fantasy. 

As with many fantasy works, this novel contains specific geography, customs, and cultures.  In this world specifically, magic exists and is found in abundance at the infamous Hotel Magnifique. This hotel shows up in various parts of the world for two weeks, attracting guests for the stay of a lifetime. However, the hotel has many darker secrets that Jani, the main character, becomes entwined with. Jani is seventeen, and lives in the city of Durc with her younger sister, Zosa. When given the opportunity, Jani and her sister end up working in the hotel, and many twists and turns occur through their employment. 

Some notable characters are Jani and her sister, as well as the owner of the hotel, Alastair. Jani’s closest acquaintance at the hotel is a suminaire, magic wielder,  named Bel, as well as her friend Beatirce. There are many more characters who are not as notable, and many only make a few important appearances. 

The plot progressed quite slowly at times, and it took many chapters for the information to become interesting. While the book is 400 pages, at times it feels like much more with pacing that fluctuates between skipping over details and taking too long. 

The overall plot of the book is intriguing in itself, but at times it felt like the full extent of the material was not completely explored. The magic system is not fully explained, and at times it can be confusing. 

The book contains lots of French language and terms, so it might be handy to keep Google close.  Some of the names of characters seem similar, and with the amount of characters there are; it becomes hard to differentiate at times. 

Jani can be an unlikeable main character, as her motivations for her actions are admirable, but she often ends up in trouble that puts other people at risk. It seems as though even though Jani is the main character, the most convenient “main character/ chosen one” occurrences seem to happen to her. 

This overall sense of convenience in the novel is apparent, with some information being presented in boring or blatant ways. Rather than showing or hinting to the information, it will be dumped on the readers in slews of world-building that can be difficult to get through. 

Another faulty area in the book is its lack of suspense. There are times that should be tense and anticipatory, but the stakes are never high enough to really worry for the lives and well-being of the characters. Or, there are some events that could have had a much bigger impact if they were allowed time to be drawn out in order to create the most tension. 

Despite these criticisms, the book is not bad as a whole. It may not add anything revolutionary to the young adult fantasy genre, but it still is an enjoyable read. 

For example, the magic in the world is somewhat unique and different from the usual wands or waving of hands. The “suminaires” use objects called “artéfacts” to wield and contain their power. The powers the suminaire have are also different from what one would expect, with there being the ability to find objects by drawing a map to their location and the power to turn people into birds, as examples.

One aspect of the book to commend is its devotion to diversity. There are a variety of people of color and characters (main and supporting) with various sexualities. When one character comes out, or more specifically, mentions their sexuality, it is not seen as a big deal, and is treated with the same respect as the hetrosexual relationship in the book. 

While this is Taylors first original novel, it is obvious she has potential, so with hope any of her future books take the enjoyable parts of Hotel Magnifique, but build off of its flaws.