Title: The Splendor
Author: Breeana Shields
Pub. Date: September 7, 2021
Pub: Page Street Kids
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
The Splendor isn’t just a glamorous hotel, it’s a magical experience that gives its guests the fantasy fulfillment of their dreams. But The Splendor didn’t make Juliette’s dreams come true. It ruined her life.
After a weeklong stay, Juliette’s sister, Clare, returns from the hotel changed. Her connection to Juliette―the special bond they once shared―has vanished. In a moment of hurt and frustration, Juliette steals their meager savings and visits The Splendor herself.
When she arrives, she’s taken in by the lush and sumptuous hotel. But as she delves more deeply into the mystery of the place, and how they make their illusions work, she grows more and more uneasy. The Splendor has a seedy underbelly, but every time she gets close to discovering something real, she seems to hit a wall.
Meanwhile, Juliette meets Henri, an illusionist who lives and works at the hotel. Henri’s job is to provide Juliette with the same Signature Experience he gives all the guests―one tailored fantasy that will make her stay unforgettable. As he gets to know her, he realizes that not only is he ill-equipped to make her dreams come true, he’s the cause of her heartache.
This will be a spoiler free review. I read an ARC of this book and omfg I loved it. You can check out my reviews for Breeana’s Bone Charmer Duology – The Bone Charmer and The Bone Thief – that duology is amazing and one of my favorites. If you haven’t checked the books out yet, you should jump on it. You can also check out my friend Sammy’s reviews for the Bone Charmer dulogy over at We Write At Dawn. I’ll link her reviews here and here.
Now, let’s jump into my review.
Originally thought this was the start of a new duology/trilogy, so I was actually quite surprised to find out that it wasn’t. On one hand, I love that I don’t have to wait for another book, because I loved this one so much and a wait would kill me. On the other hand, I loved this book so much and could easily read another one set in this world with these characters.
Breeana created such a cool world, with cool magic lore and such wonderful character and character arcs. She wove a plot that didn’t play out like I expected it would and I loved it. It kept me turning the pages well into the night when I should have been sleeping.
But if you can’t stay up late on vacation, what’s the point?
I loved this book.
As for the characters, I loved Juliette and Henri. She’s hurt, loyal, strong and determined and not afraid of breaking some rules and conniving to get what she wants. At her core, she’s a good person who had something bad happen to her, and in her quest to find out why it happened, she stumbled upon something much darker.
Henri was such a cinnamon roll to Juliette’s fire. He just wanted to make people happy. He’s a giver and would give and give until there was nothing left of him if he could. Then he meets Juliette and she’s a puzzle he can’t seem to solve, and she seems to be hell bent on breaking a part his world.
Their dynamic was so good. I loved their connection and how quickly they bonded – how they have a similar shared trauma. Okay, that might sound a smidge bad, but it gave them this depth that I thoroughly enjoyed.
If you’ve seen the Austenland movie – it kind of has a bit of a similar plot – and I loved it. I love that movie and would probably totally pay to have an experience like that, and like the one at The Splendor.
As for the ending = couldn’t have predicted it. Not at all. Hell, half the stuff that happened in this book I couldn’t have predicted. I had expectation of how I thought the book was going to play out, and I’m so thrilled I was wrong. Breeana sucks you in and captures your attention with this book. And like I said, I would totally read another book – I feel like the ending what left open just enough that maybe it could be possible? Hell, even just a slice of life novella or short scene. I just loved the characters so much, and the lore surrounding the magic is so cool.
I really can’t wait to see what Breeana writes next. I’ve been so excited for this book since January 2020 when she told Brigid Kemmerer and I about it over dinner after a signing. So, while this review is going up after its release, I’m so thrilled I was able to read it early and gush about it to my friends. You definitely want and need to pick this book up. Read it, stare at it, tuck it on your shelf.