Book Review: Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

Hotel Magnifique – Emily J. Taylor (Razorbill, 2022)

I am the aunt who gives my nieces and nephews books as gifts. I decided several years ago that books would be my go-to gifts for birthdays and ever since I’ve enjoyed finding and sharing books with my two nieces and three nephews. They are a variety of ages which requires a variety of selections and, as they get older, they are all excellent readers on their own. This is, of course, a good thing, but it can make it hard to find a book that I’m sure they haven’t read. For my recently turned 12-year-old niece I searched out new releases and found this fantasy story from Emily J. Taylor. I gave it a quick read myself to make sure it would work and ended up quite enjoying the story.

Jani and Zosa are struggling to get by and when the Hotel Magnifique comes to town it seems like the answer to all their dreams. In a world where magic is dangerous and outlawed, only within the walls of the Hotel Magnifique – a hotel that travels around the world – is it allowed, kept in bounds by the world’s most powerful suminaire. Zosa is quickly hired by the hotel due to her singing ability but Jani needs to sneak in a little more stealthily. She finds an unexpected ally in the doorman, Bel, but quickly finds that the hotel is not exactly what she expected and the contract she has signed may be far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

This is a fun and creative book, perfectly geared for readers about 12-16, I’d say. There are plenty of books about magic out there but Taylor adds some new twists and the setting of the magical hotel also gives the magic a new dimension. What kept me reading though was the characters and the fact that the central relationship, what drives Jani forward, is the one between the two sisters. Jani is a fiercely loyal older sister, striving to keep Zosa safe and with her, no matter what. The surrounding characters – many of them employees of the hotel – are all well and simply written. They’re easy to picture and to keep apart as I read them on the page. Several of them are given some depth as Taylor unfolds their backstories and motivations.

Lots to enjoy here and I would look for Taylor’s work again in the future.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor”

  1. I never know whether to give books or not. My great-grandma have me books back in the mid-90s that to this day I have not read. Part of the solution IS to consider what’s new and maybe interesting to A particular kid. The books my great-grandma gave me were A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Anne of Green Gables series. None of those kids had lives that I understood. I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables until I was around 30.

    1. That’s a fair consideration. My older nieces and nephew are all readers; if they didn’t read the books I have them, I probably would give up on book-giving! I do try to thoughtfully choose books for them. As they get older I find I’m usually looking at new releases because they do read a lot on their own. My oldest niece is 17 now so I’ve been introducing some of my own recent favourites that I think she would also like. It’s tempting to just give books I love but I know they have their own interests and preferences.

    2. My problem was always how little I knew about life in the late 1800s, or that Britain colonized India, and that’s why a British guy would take his daughter there and eventually send her to a school in England. Etc.

    3. Oh yes, that makes sense. Explaining to my kids about boarding school was weird because they couldn’t comprehend why a loving parent would do so. And then when we talked about residential schools here in Canada, they were initially confused about why that was different. There is a lot in old kids books that was over my head – I may have mentioned that I only realized recently that the reason their father is away in Little Women is because of the Civil War!

  2. This looks like a fun read – and what a beautiful cover! I’m impressed that you are able to read the books before you give them as gifts. I like buying kids books, but so far they’ve just been picture books, so it’s been easy for me to ‘pre-read’ them before I buy, however this is bound to become more difficult as the kids get older!

    1. I can still read most YA books pretty fast. And if I’ve picked something from adult lit then it’s so far always been something I’ve read before.

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