Illuminate, by Aimee Agresti (fiction) – H for Haven, Hotel, and Hell?

Al Capone had his gangster headquarters at The Lexington Hotel,
President Benjamin Harrison enjoyed its luxuries as he dedicated Chicago’s famous World Columbian Exposition,
and now shy Haven Terra will be part of its gala grand re-opening.

She doesn’t recall applying for an internship in hotel management, but is glad for anything that will help pay for college…and she gets to live there full-time instead of enduring spring semester at her high school, too! Great!

But soon she and fellow intern Lance find flaws in The Lexington’s quest for perfection – a hidden agenda that will require guests to check their souls at the door, their beautiful bosses’ evil alliances, and mysterious messages telling Haven how to stop this devilish enterprise.

It’s up to her to find a way to Illuminate the dark secrets of this surface-bright world and to keep her friends from being lured into its depths…forever. First book in The Gilded Wings series and Agresti’s writing debut – it’s a thrill ride!

(p.s. LAST DAY! Giveaway for ARC of Cat Girl’s Day Off continues here closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, April 9, 2012.)

Book info: Illuminate / Aimee Agresti. Harcourt, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Haven was surprised to be chosen to intern with the successful young owner of the swanky Lexington Hotel – and get school credit, too. The suave and glamorous trainees there seem rather soulless, though, like being a member of “The Outfit” has polished away their own personalities…

It’ll be hard to give up working at the children’s hospital and living with Joan, the nurse who found her as an abandoned five-year-old and gave her a home. Nothing ever discovered about Haven’s past, why she had those terrible scars on her back, why she had been left in the frozen mud. But it’s only for the spring semester.

Shy, smart Haven sure won’t miss feeling like an outcast at her high school, especially since her best (and only) friend Dante will be shadowing The Lexington’s amazing chef. And Lance from their school will be there, working with handsome manager Lucien. Everything will be fine, especially when owner Aurelia gives Haven a great camera and charges her with filling the lobby gallery with large-format portraits of The Outfit for The Lexington’s grand opening.

Browsing the hotel library for more history about its heyday when Al Capone was a regular, an odd little book intrigues her. And later, the book starts to write messages to Haven in its back pages… messages that warn her to trust no one, to explore carefully, and to train her muscles and stamina for a future challenge.

As the hotel’s grand opening nears, The Vault basement club starts welcoming Chicago’s elite and famous to its “ring of fire” seating and exquisite cocktails. All the gorgeous young people of The Outfit spend their evenings there too, so Lucien and Aurelia ask Haven to take lots of publicity photos. Lucien particularly enjoys having Haven nearby…

When Haven sees Lucien open an iron basement door into a fiery pit, she knows that The Lexington is not just another fancy hotel. And surely it’s not coincidence that her own high school has scheduled its prom there!

Why are hideous distortions appearing on every photo of The Outfit that Haven takes? Why is Dante suddenly so distant? Can Haven and Lance stay clear of the hotel’s mysterious perils? Why is the book warning her to be prepared against evil? What’s this about Haven keeping souls from…extinction?

Agresti’s stunning debut novel is the first book in The Gilded Wings trilogy. Step into The Lexington with Haven, if you dare. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

5 thoughts on “Illuminate, by Aimee Agresti (fiction) – H for Haven, Hotel, and Hell?

  1. This is such a helpful blog. I work with a girl with Special Needs who is in her early 20s but loves to read. She is always asking me about books for her to read and I am not as familiar with YA books, so I will check out some of the ones that you have reviewed for her.

    • That’s great, Heather! I promise that I’ll NEVER give away the endings or important plot twists in my recommendations, so you could read those with her and decide which book to try next.

      Hope y’all will find great things to read together – lots of “grown-ups” are big YA fans, too.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions, I’m always looking for a good book recommendation! Do you ever work like the genius bar in iTunes? Could I tell you books I like and get a personalized recommendation? 🙂 I’m now a follower!

    • Sure, M, let’s give it a try! You can also click the labels (on right) to go to my recommendations for each subject. And no spoilers, ever! I just hate someone giving away the ending or important plot twist in a review…

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