The Splendor by Breeana Shields
Publication Date: September 27, 2021
Summary from GoodReads:
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 was such a wonderful imaginative read, that I really enjoyed. I loved the mystery, the characters were great and the beautiful atmospheric writing just all blended together to make for a perfect read.
The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Juliette and Henri. Juliette goes to the Splendor to find out what happened to her sister, but she ends up in a mystery that will change her world forever. I really liked Juliette, she is plucky and curious, but also determined to find out what happened no matter the cost. Henri was also a great character who I really felt for. He so wanted to do right by Juliette and her sister, but also wanted to protect the Splendor and all that it meant to him. He had issues, but most were not of his own making. Both characters show a lot of strength and growth throughout the story. A romance does develop between these two, but it sweet and doesn’t overshadow the main story.
The setting of the hotel was masterfully done! The illusions that were created for the guest were amazing as were their surroundings. The writing and world building really made it easy to imagine what it would be like to spend time there. But I also liked that there were times when both Henri and Juliette could see beyond the illusions and what they were really hiding.
The story itself was nicely done. The mystery of what happened to Juliette’s sister was played out with just enough clues and twists that you were often left in the dark along with the characters. The mystery around how the hotel and the magic worked was also nicely done and I liked how it all tied together. There were many times throughout the story where I felt just like the characters and didn’t know who to trust. When everything is an illusion it is very hard to trust anything or anyone.
A masterfully well done story that everyone should read. This is easily a book that you could read in one day, but you won’t want to. This is one you want to savor and spend some time with to peel back the illusions layer by layer.