Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to the advanced copy of this book to read.
The cover drew me in, and I believe it was aptly designed to get that roaring 20s kind of vibe that the hotel Splendor gives off. I love a good sister story, I love a good mystery. This was a decent story, albeit slow paced.
I requested this book because a student likes this author but I won't be buying this for the library. The writing is not very good and the plot is a bit recycled.
AS a special treat, Juliette saved enough money to send her sister Clare to the magical Splendor Hotel for a week where she could live out her wishes and hopes, far away from their real lives of non-stop work, cramped living space and overall poverty. But when Clare returns home, she has been changed by her experience and pulls away from Juliette, leaving Juliette heartbroken and desperate for answers- and the only place she will get them is at the Splendor.
Overall this was a very sad read. Sure it was full of magic and amazing imagination and creativity, but really this made me super depressed while reading. The book started off very slowly, with more introspection into Juliette and her mind and current loss as well as all the magical events of The Splendor Hotel and what other patrons were receiving as their magical wishes. I was a little bored to be honest but kept pushing on. The last third of the book got much more interesting and stressful and exciting, with dangerous secrets and truths coming to light and some good twists I could not predict. There is also a little bit of romance for those who enjoy that in their reads. The ending overall wrapped things up mostly, with a hint that things could someday change- but keep in mind that this is a standalone novel so the open ending is just for the reader to sit and ponder for a while. I liked the direction the book took, I just personally wish it went there sooner to keep my attention fully engaged. I can see people who like the flowery details and magic really enjoying this style of storytelling though, so it might be exactly what you want.
The Splendor by Breeana Shields, 330 pages. Page Streeet Kids, 2021. $16. 9781645673224
Language: G (0 swears, 0‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G
BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
Juliette was happy when her older sister Clare went to The Splendor for a week of pampering. But ever since Clare returned, things just haven’t been the same. Juliette is determined to enter The Splendor herself and unearth its secrets. What Juliette doesn’t know is the Henri, the beautiful boy who is her guide for the week, is also there to distract her. The Splendor not has secrets, but it also wants YOUR secrets!
A must read for students who love old-world glamour with a hint of scandal thrown in. The beauty of The Splendor is nicely set off by its dark underbelly. Shields should write of this type of book.
Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS
This story was an interesting mystery to unravel and the dual POV of Henri and Juliette gave us an outside and inside perspective of The Splendor. I really felt for Juliette as she struggled to enjoy the delights of The Splendor while trying to uncover the secrets it was hiding, and looking for answers as to why her sister treated her like a stranger when she came home. It was difficult not to compare this to Caraval, there was something about the sister bond and the mystery of the Splendor that felt a little too similar. On top of that, I did feel that the world building outside of the Splendor itself was lacking, to the point where I couldn't picture it at all. I couldn't picture the streets, the buildings, the era or even the clothing they wore with much detail. I loved that the early stages of romance between Juliette and Henri never felt forced, as a full on romance would have got in the way. I only wish for the story that there was just, more. Something about the conclusion of the story felt like it was in Middle Grade territory and I did leave feeling like I was missing something I can't quite put my finger on. (3.75 stars rounded up)
A lush hotel named The Splendor is imbued with magic and promises to fulfill its guests wildest fantasies. How exactly? Only the illusionists know, but when one guest arrives determined to uncover its secrets, the magic begins to unravel and the ultimate price to be paid is more than anyone had bargained for.
The concept for this book had me excited to read it. Magic, betrayal, the bonds of family, what’s real versus what’s fantasy, plus a an opulent hotel with creepy shenanigans happening in the shadows ..……...nothing groundbreaking, but it sounded interesting. Unfortunately, I found the execution disappointing. I’m not a fan of flowery, overwrought prose, but I thought the world building was practically nonexistent. There’s really no sense of time period or location. Even the hotel itself is barely described. The plot plods along in some places and feels rushed in others, and a lot of things just don’t really make sense. I found the “romance” lackluster and the two main characters a bit dull. Overall not a bad story, but it could have been so much more.
The cover of this book greatly drew me into it, but I found it hard to get through. Part of it is because the NetGalley file was zoomed out and I had to zoom in for each page and could not flip the page until I zoomed all the way back out. As a faster reader, this just was time consuming and annoying, and I know that it affected my experience. That said, I did enjoy the story mostly. The biggest caveat was just that I didn't love the character a lot though the plot itself was very interesting.
I enjoyed this thoroughly. The concept of a hotel of illusions felt very creative and refreshing, and the story really delivered. There was a seamless blend of the real and the fantastical, with just enough explanation for the magic to make sense but not get bogged down in the details - the story was not concerned with how there is illusory magic, but rather the repercussions of its existence, both positive and negative. As a reader, I kept getting swept up in the descriptions, even though it was established as illusions from the very beginning, which mirrored the main character's own struggle to fight through the magic for answers about her sister.
Despite a few elements that jarred me out of the fantasy of this book, I really enjoyed The Splendor.
What would you wish for if you could have anything you want? The Splendor is a hotel that makes its guests' dreams come true through magic. Some people come for a week once in their lifetimes, while others visit every year. The staff studies the lives of each person who is coming to see what their wildest fantasies and dreams are, and then use illusion to fulfill their wishes.
Juliette has come because she wants to know what happened to her sister Clare. Juliette had scrimped and saved to send Clare to The Splendor, to thank her for being a wonderful big sister and taking care of Juliette for many years after their parents died. But after Clare came home, she was distant and uninterested in Juliette. She even told Juliette it was time for her to move out, which shocked her. Juliette takes their savings and books her own week at The Splendor, in hopes she can find out what happened to Clare, and, if not, at least have a wonderful week of fantasy before she goes out into the world to try to make it on her own.
Henri is also an orphan, who lives at The Splendor with the owners of the hotel, his aunt and uncle. He is a master illusionist, and works every night to fill visitors' dreams with romance or adventure or whatever they desire. He uses magic to look into their memories and thoughts to find out exactly what would make their visit perfect and fulfill their fantasies. Each guest gets a Signature Experience - their most secret dream come true, and Henri is in charge of making that happen. After working, he goes below the hotel to the hot springs, where the magic comes from, to recharge.
When Juliette checks in, he is panicked. She is a late addition, and he hasn't had time to do the necessary research to know which dessert is perfect for her, what activities she'd like to do, and what her Signature Experience ought to be. When he talks to her, and senses her feelings, he realizes she is deeply unhappy, so much that the fantasy and illusion around her isn't anesthetizing her as it does the other guests. Henri's aunt Stella warns him that he must figure her out - the resort's reputation is at stake. So Henri tries harder and harder to figure out what will make Juliette happy, but in the process, falls in love with her and wants to help her figure out what really happened to Clare.
I really got caught up in Juliette's story. However, there were several times when things just don't quite make sense. Are the staff members seeing the illusions, or the real hotel? There are other plot holes that I can't reveal without spoilers, so I'll just say there were times where I thought, well that doesn't make sense. How would he/she know that?
But overall, this book was thoroughly enjoyable and a sweet, clean romance. Thanks to Netgalley for this advance reader's copy of The Splendor!
When you first hear the words “magic hotel”, anyone’s first instinct is to experience the magic for themselves. However, in The Splendor by Breanna Shields (which comes out on September 28th), one girl realizes that sometimes separating fantasy and reality can be a dangerous thing.
This book was a really engaging read! The mysteries of The Splendor Hotel and the allure of magic was well written and the plot was entertaining. I can totally picture this book being made into a movie or something in the future since everything was so detailed.
Figuring out the secrets of the hotel through Juliette and Henri’s eyes was fascinating and made this YA novel a fun escape from reality (similar to The Splendor itself). I found some parts of it to be predictable, while others were shocking. However, to a younger audience, I think this book would be so enrapturing.
I think this is a great YA book for those just looking for a fantastical mystery, especially for younger readers on the YA spectrum. If you’re looking for a standalone fantasy that will be a quick read, then I highly recommend Shield’s novel!
*I received an ARC from Page Street Books in exchange for my honest opinion.
This is a wonderful, atmospheric reading experience. I was drawn in from the moment I started reading, and I'm sure you will be too.
Even knowing that in real life and in the book everything about the Splendor HAS to be an illusion, is a facade.... Breeana Shields every delicious description of the different rooms of The Splendor Hotel had me absolutely drooling and immersed in her words, dreaming of what visiting a hotel that caters to your every whim would be like. I can't praise her enough for the way she painted pictures with her writing, making the reader feel as if they were in the middle of the hotel right along with Juliette, and if we're honest, wishing we really were.
This was a fabulous story of magic and falsity, of love and manipulation, and I adored every minute of it. Fabulously done Breeana, absolutely wonderful.
To be honest, I had no idea what was going on most of the time. Either nothing was happening or everything was happening all at once without any explanation. I didn't understand the magic system, which the author doesn't devote much time to explaining. If Juliette and Henri were more interesting characters, perhaps that could have saved it.
This came in to my Kindle all screwed up, it was sideways and the type was jammed together so it was unreadable. Sorry. It sounded really good though! I will have to look for it when it comes out and get a copy.
If you could get rid of your worst memories, would you?
Juliette and her older sister Clare have always wanted to visit The Splendor. The magical hotel promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience of decadence and luxury as the only place that can make your wildest dream come true, and Juliette dreams of it fulfilling the emptiness of growing up without parents. When Juliette finally saves enough to send one of them, she chooses to send Clare, the older sister who loved her and made the children's home bearable. But then Clare comes back, and she doesn't want to be around Juliette anymore.
Heartbroken, Juliette steals the rainy day fund she and Clare were saving to buy their own place and books herself a reservation at The Splendor to find out what took Clare away from her.
The glitz of the The Splendor and its magical illusionists will draw you in as much as it does Juliette, until you find out that all that glitters is not gold. Imagine being the star of a masquerade ball, or being able to wish a dragon chariot race into existence. But someone has to pay the price of all that magic, and slowly but surely, The Splendor's sinister side is revealed.
Juliette bonds with Henri, the foster son of the Splendor's owners and heir apparent. He blames himself for breaking her heart, since he's the reason Clare doesn't want anything to do with Juliette anymore. Henry removes unwanted memories, then reworks them for other people. He can take a perilous battle scene that's giving one person PTSD and change it into a heroic experience for someone who wants memories of saving the day. He can rework the shape of a person's life - at least in their memory. Henry sees himself as using his power for good, so learning of Juliette's pain shakes him.
But the secrets of The Splendor go far deeper than either of them have dreamed, weaving a tapestry of lies around everyone associated with it. Henri and Juliette will have to work together if either of them will have a chance at escaping.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Review Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What could be scarier than losing all your memories? How about having your memories taken from you? Hotel guests at The Splendor spend their days and nights living out their wildest fantasies, but they pay a steeper price than they realize for having their dreams come true.
I couldn't help but think that the owner of The Splendor could have accomplished the same thing if she just paid her employees a living wage instead of providing illusions. Use your money to fix the place up instead of pretending the dump was a prestigious hotel. Maybe I'm letting the economic situation of today cloud my mind but it does seem like the owner could have spent a little on upkeep. And not make your employees available 24 hours a day and have to sleep in the attic. Sheesh, the exhaustion of poor Henri made working in an Amazon warehouse look good.
One of the ways to gain sympathy when writing novels is to make the protagonist an orphan. Here we have two orphan protagonists, at least one thinks he's an orphan. And, they are likeable characters. For awhile their lives and problems slogged along for me, but once their lives were in danger the pace really picked up and became exciting.
But, they did have a lip-biting problem. I think every character in the book bit his or her lip. My lip-bite-o-meter topped out. On top of that, the re-action to most things was to ball the hands into fists and dig the fingernails into the skin. I'm going to have to add a hurt-o-meter because the only way characters think in books today is when they intentionally hurt themselves. Why has this become a thing in YA? Are we all masochists now?
If I didn't burst into laughter every time someone bit their lip or dug their fingernails into their skin, I would have enjoyed the book more. At least there wasn't much eyeball rolling. Thank God for small favors.
Thanks to Netgalley for loaning me an ebook of The Splendor in return for an honest relationship...er, review.
Orphaned sisters Clare and Juliette have long looked to The Splendor for escape. Every time they passed by the hotel's grand front, they wished for a taste of the magic it promises. Dreams come true, fantasies fulfilled. So when Juliette saves up to buy Clare a reservation, she doesn't expect it to go so wrong. Clare comes back cold and unfeeling, as though she doesn't know who Juliette is, as though all of her love from Juliette is gone. Upset and angry, Juliette goes to The Splendor herself to get the answers she seeks.
Nothing there is what it seems though. The entire hotel runs on illusions and magic, kept up by a staff of illusionists and managed by a boy named Henri. As a last-minute guest, Juliette is his responsibility. He has to find out her greatest desire so that he can weave her Signature Experience, the grand illusion of her stay. Juliette is more complicated and unrelenting than he expected, and between them, The Splendor's greatest illusion begins to unravel.
The Splendor is filled with a particular kind of magic. Shields really gets into the descriptions, but she leaves enough room for the reader's mind to fill in the gaps, much like the magic system in the novel itself. I found myself defaulting to some type of Great Gatsby-style lavish decor–but that's one of my favorite types of splendor. The magic system is a little vague, and I'm not sure what the actual rules are. At some points, it seems like the illusions need a 'base', something to work off of. At other points, it seems like the illusions can just come from nothing. I do like the concept behind the magic system though.
The characters are fun! Juliette is plucky and curious and determined, which all make for good main character qualities. Henri is just the right amount of uncertain and reluctant to balance that out so the pair doesn't just go barreling through everything. I didn't have a good read on Clare. She isn't in much of the novel, what you get is through Juliette and her memories. It's fine, since overall the story isn't about just her, but it did mean that I wasn't really invested in the more personal aspect of the plot as much as I was the overarching question.
The insidious nature of the villain was great, just, fantastic. Completely understandable, believable, and realistic motivations.
I enjoyed this! I read through it fast because I had trouble putting it down, especially toward the end. The story really builds momentum. Definitely recommend.
This books was very VERY good. It promised an interesting concept and followed through with a rich, creative story that was interesting and vivid and all around awesome. I found myself cheering for the good guys, thinking very bad thoughts about the villains, and wondering who our heroine could trust when your own eyes can’t be trusted. I found myself constantly checking the page number on my kindle hoping that this book would never end and there was still more pages to devour. I adored this book!!!
I received an ARC from NetGalley, but my opinions are all mine.
What's not to like about a hotel full of magic and illusion. People thrive on fantasy, so why not make sure they have an enjoyable custom experience. Extracting memories, what could possibly go wrong?
Vivid fantasy description intertwined with mystery and a unique plot concept peeked my interest early on! Once this story got going I couldn't put it down.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a digital copy of this ARC for my review.