Hotel Magnifique

Hotel Magnifique


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Book Review

Jani wants only the best for her sister. And the magical Hotel Magnifique seems like a way to get it. But magical places can also have dark secrets.

Plot Summary

Seventeen-year-old Jani is tired of the fish smell that clings to her everywhere she goes–which, to tell the truth, is not very many places. Her tailoring job is tedious and demeaning. People look at her with disdain, and she is tired of sharing a room with spiders and beetles.

Jani’s only joy comes from her dazzling 13-year-old sister, Zosa, who has golden hair and a voice like an angel. The girls have been relying on each other since their mother died when Jani was 13, and they are best friends. Zosa deserves better than their little port town of Durk, and Jani is determined to give it to her.

Their best chance at getting away is a place called the Hotel Magnifique.

This mysterious hotel is famous for magically appearing, holding a raffle for tickets and whisking the lucky winners away to fantastical places. But Jani doesn’t want one of the highly coveted tickets. She wants to land a job for she and her sister. And it just so happens that the hotel is hiring.

Once they’re on staff, however, it doesn’t take long for Jani to realize that life in the hotel isn’t anything like she expected. The workers are forbidden from leaving to go see all the fabulous sights Jani has longed for. And the contracts for employment in this enchanted place are unbreakable bonds. In fact, nearly everything she’s heard about this secretive hotel is a lie.

To regain their freedom, Jani will have to unravel the mystery and magic around her and risk everything she loves. It’s a scary proposition, but doing nothing … is scarier still.

Christian Beliefs

Jani uses the exclamation “Thank God” a few times.

Other Belief Systems

The novel revolves around the existence and nature of magic, which comes from people who are born with magic and control it through magical objects. The characters do not address the implications of this magic on their religious belief, spirituality, or the meaning of life. Zosa once thanks the “Divine Goddess” of the hotel but is clear she does not believe such a deity exists.

The novel mentions that people are afraid of most magic, and some people practice “false magic,” which amounts to illusions and carnival tricks. Real magic, meanwhile, sometimes come from incantations or spells applied through writing with magic ink—which sometimes requires the pricking of the finger. No dark rituals involving potions or spells appear, but some of the magic is used to harm or punish others.

Authority Roles

Few authorities other than Jani exist in this story. She breaks the rules constantly inside and outside the hotel to secure the best future she can for her sister.

Profanity & Violence

The novel includes some scattered foul language. The s-word appears once, and d–n is said once. One man is called a b–tard, and a– is said twice.

The plot of this adventure does rely on violence, though much of that violence occurs through magical means. A few people are stabbed and threatened with knives. Past violent burnings and drownings of magical people are mentioned. At the hotel, a woman punishes others by removing fingers and eyes with a magic knife. These eyes and fingers are then turned into porcelain, which kills them if broken. Even stranger, many people are turned into birds for years at a time and suffer burns. A woman is frozen to death, and another is smashed by a ceiling beam.

Jani is drugged with a potion that forces her to tell her secrets. Hotel guests consume large amounts of champagne. And a nightmare drug-like concoction causes the characters to see everything around them as rotting and scary.

Sexual Content

A few raunchy comments and jokes appear. Jani and Bel, a mischievous boy who also works at the hotel, find themselves pressed against the wall in a way that, Jani says, would appear inappropriate from the outside. Various characters look at each other suggestively. A magic bed forces them to lie on top of each other for a while in the honeymoon suite. Bel and Jani make out with each other a few times (with an obvious desire for more), and those makeout sessions are described in detail.

One woman kisses another woman on the shoulder during a party.

Two guys, Hellas and Bel, had a romantic relationship in the past.

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Additional Comments

Emily Taylor’s story is full of engaging description and is driven by an engaging plot. The novel is a page-turner and shows the value of family and healthy relationships.

The writing has a young tone and avoids major content concerns, but this is contrasted by some scattered adult content like suggestive scenes, comments and swearing. Parents of may also be uncomfortable with the topic of magic, though the magic in the story feels more akin to the sort of naturalistic magic found in Harry Potter than the diabolical  darkness of real witchcraft.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Marsella Evans