The Splendor

Page Street. Sept. 2021. 330p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781645673224.
Gr 9 Up–The Hotel Splendor is a place of enchantment where dreams come true…but at what cost? When Juliette Berton’s beloved sister Clare comes back from The Hotel Splendor cold and emotionless, Juliette steals their life savings and books a last-minute reservation in order to solve the mystery. Upon arrival, Juliette soon meets Henri, a handsome young illusionist, whose job is “to turn Juliette’s fantasies into realities” and distract her from finding answers. While a tender romance does indeed grow between the truth-seeker and the magician, a far more original plot emerges as Juliette and Henri join forces to uncover memories that have been lost, stolen, and corrupted. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter, the worldbuilding compels in this book because it speaks to the panoramic and pedestrian nature of fantasy, alongside the commodification of dreams. Henri conjures pro-forma dragon-races and also coaxes back the fading, treasured, everyday memories of an elderly man. When Juliette finds ways to see through the illusions surrounding her, she must learn to be content with disappointing realities. The plot has plenty of twists, right through the end. Though the villain can be spotted early on, their motivations are multifaceted and provide plenty of suspense. A quibble is the worldbuilding outside the hotel, which seems a bit uncertainly placed in location and history.
VERDICT This novel promises and delivers a luxurious setting and adventure, alongside the more lasting pleasures of heartfelt sisterly heroism and courageous love.

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