I am so excited for this next cover reveal! I have loved reading Shields’ other books like The Bone Charmer and Shields’ next book sounds amazing. When Page Street asked if I would love to reveal the next cover, I was thrilled. Excuse me, but MAGICAL HOTELS?! I may have shrieked a little bit. But enough about me, let’s dive in!
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.
The Cover Reveal!
Don’t you love how gorgeous that cover is? The cover designer is Laura Benton. I love the little details like the falling girl at the bottom of the cover and the contrast of yellow and black?! This one is stunning!
Juliette wished she’d never heard of The Hotel Splendor.
If she’d known then what she knew now, she would have ripped her sister’s reservation into bits and tossed the pieces in the fire.
But she didn’t, and so on the morning Clare turned twenty, Juliette tied a bright yellow ribbon around the envelope and waited by the door of the tiny flat they’d rented just a year earlier when Clare was taken on as a governess.
The two of them had dreamed about a night at the legendary hotel for years. It was a bright glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal existence, whispered about during sleepless nights in the damp and drafty bedroom they shared at the children’s home. Juliette and Clare would lie, fingers entwined, under the questionable warmth of a threadbare quilt imagining the wonders they would encounter when they finally entered the grand double doors.
“If we ever make it to The Splendor, what will you wish for?” Juliette asked once.
Clare sighed softly in the dark, a contented sound that warmed Juliette from the inside out. Clare was a dreamer and a brighter future was her favorite dream.
“So many things,” Clare said. “It might be fun to be a princess. Or to ride an elephant through the streets of some faraway city.” The girls had been young then, and their dreams were young too.
Juliette wriggled her ice-cold toes beneath Clare’s calf. Her sister shivered but didn’t move away.
“You could do both.”
Clare laughed. “You’re right. I could.”
Their parents were long gone, and they had no friends besides each other, but at least they had this wild, glittering dream: a visit to an enchanted hotel that promised to turn their fantasies into realities—at least for the duration of their stay.
They’d heard the legends—everyone had. But was it true that The Splendor could make you feel like you were falling in love? Like you were singing on a stage in front of thousands of adoring fans? Like you were flying? Everyone said The Splendor could give you things you didn’t even know you wanted.
She hoped they were right.
When Clare finally made it home, her shoulders slumped with exhaustion, Juliette didn’t even wait for her to shrug off her coat before thrusting the envelope toward her.
Clare’s lips curved in a gentle smile. “You remembered.” The way she said it—both touched and surprised—made Juliette wonder if Clare had forgotten the date. Typical. She was always so focused on making sure Juliette was taken care of that she rarely thought of herself.
Clare worked a finger under the seam and tore open the envelope. She was likely expecting something homemade—a card scrawled in Juliette’s messy script or a coupon that could be redeemed to skip her turn doing the dishes. It was the only kind of gift the girls had ever been able to afford. But when Clare unfolded the creamy paper she froze. Her green eyes widened, and her chin dropped, shaping her lips into a soft pink circle. Then her entire expression melted into something between awe and ecstasy. Juliette’s throat got thick. She didn’t need The Splendor to feel like she was flying.
But then Clare’s gaze went to the broom closet and a flicker of panic sparked in her eyes. “Jules, how did you do this?”
“Don’t worry. I didn’t touch our rainy-day stash.” Juliette knew it would be the ultimate betrayal to dip into the fund the girls had carefully set aside for years. Someday money Clare called it each time she tucked another coin into the false bottom of a box filled with cleaning rags. Someday we’ll have a better life, Jules.
“Then how did you do this?” Clare asked.
Juliette gave her a small enigmatic smile. “I won’t give away my secrets.”
She didn’t want to tell Clare about the dozens of odd jobs she’d taken over the last year when she was supposed to be studying—taking in laundry for wealthy women who lived on the east side of town; making early-morning bread deliveries, the scent of yeast so tempting, it was all she could do to keep from tearing the loaves apart and devouring them herself; hours spent sanding newly carved rocking chairs at the carpentry shop, her lungs raw from breathing in sawdust.
She didn’t want anything to temper Clare’s joy.
“Do you like it?”
Clare’s eyes glimmered. “But . . . we were supposed to go together.”
Juliette’s heart seized. Had she miscalculated? Was Clare disappointed? But then Clare pulled Juliette into a fierce embrace, her tears mingling with Juliette’s own.
“I love it.”
It was one of the last times Clare touched Juliette. The last time she looked at her like they were a team.
The memory made Juliette’s chest ache, and she forcibly shoved Clare from her mind. A crust of anger had formed over her heart like a frozen lake in winter. But one wrong step—a too-tender memory of Clare, a moment too long thinking about how things used to be between them—and the ice would crack. Juliette would slip beneath the surface to the frigid shock of loss and betrayal lurking below. She could survive the anger, but she couldn’t survive the emotions it concealed. They would crush the air from her lungs.
And so, as she hurried through the streets of Belle Fontaine, heels clicking on the cobbles as she passed chocolate shops and cafés with striped awnings and delicate wrought iron tables, she fed her anger a different set of memories.
Clare was only at The Splendor for a week, but to Juliette, it felt like a lifetime. Their lives were a pair of clasped hands—connected, intertwined—and Juliette’s days were empty without her sister.
Each night, Juliette laid awake and thought of everything she wanted to tell Clare when they were reunited. She’d been carefully collecting bits of gossip like they were the small treasures she used to gather on her childhood walks—shiny rocks, abandoned coins, colorful leaves—stuffed in her pockets to share with her sister later. She saved stories the same way. A handsome stranger had visited Mrs. Cardon three days in a row at precisely noon, leaving an hour later with his hair and clothes noticeably disheveled. The corner bakery changed their recipe for scones—they were now studded with morsels of cranberries—and Juliette hadn’t decided how she felt about it yet. A robin had taken residence in the tree outside the girls’ bedroom window and insisted on waking Juliette with birdsong at an offensively early hour.
When the end of the week finally approached, Juliette waited at the bottom of Splendor Hill, breathless with anticipation.
She spotted Clare climbing out of the carriage, her expression wistful, as if she were waking from a particularly lovely dream.
Juliette called her name. Clare turned, scanning the crowd, but her gaze slid past Juliette. She craned her neck to look for the source of the noise.
“Clare!” Juliette shouted again, louder, more insistent.
Finally, Clare’s gaze settled on Juliette. Her brow furrowed, as if she were trying to place someone vaguely familiar. But then her eyes cleared, and she waved.
Juliette ran forward and flung herself into Clare’s arms.
Clare stiffened and pulled away.
Juliette’s ribs collapsed around her heart. She assumed Clare would be as desperate to see her as she was to see Clare.
Juliette blinked back tears. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Clare said. “Everything is fine.” And then, after a beat: “Why are you here?”
Juliette twisted her fingers together. A nervous habit. “I thought . . . I wanted to see you.” A storm of confusion raged in her chest. Was Clare angry with her? Did she have a terrible time at The Splendor? Why was she acting so strangely?
Clare gave a polite laugh. “Well now you’ve seen me. But I better get home. I have work tomorrow.”
She turned and walked away, leaving Juliette scrambling to catch up.
Juliette tried to rationalize away Clare’s behavior. Maybe she was tired. Maybe after living inside a fantasy, the return to real life was disorienting. Things would get better.
But they didn’t. They got worse.
Clare treated Juliette as if she were nothing more than an acquaintance, edging around her in their flat as if they were strangers who happened to share the same space. When Clare acknowledged Juliette at all, it was with a distant, infuriating politeness. It would be easier if Clare were openly hostile; at least a strong emotion—even a negative one—would reveal some depth of feeling. But Clare wasn’t angry at Juliette; she was simply indifferent.
And that was so much more painful.
About the Author
Breeana Shields is an award-winning author of fantasy novels for teens including The Bone Charmer duology (Page Street), the Poison’s Kiss duology (Random House BFYR), and The Splendor (coming in fall 2021 from Page Street).
When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and playing board games with her extremely competitive family. She lives near Washington D.C. with her husband, her three children, and two adorable, but spoiled dogs.