RELEASED: October 8, 2019
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
GENRE: YA Fantasy, Historical fiction
GOODREADS RATING: 3.68
TRIGGERS: Murder, blood, mention of rape
REPS: LGBTQIA+, POC
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.
When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.
I can’t believe the time is finally here. Or should I say back. I’ve been waiting for vampire books to make a reappearance for what seems like.. ages? I know Jay Kristoff has one coming – oh boy am I ready for that – but that isn’t stopping me from checking out any other vampire-book I can get my hands on! Including, of course, Renée Ahdieh’s The Beautiful. Let’s dive into this review, shall we?
Looking back on my reading experience, the thing that’s stuck with me most is the gothic and dark atmosphere this story and Renée’s writing oozes. I honestly couldn’t get enough of it. Even though the actual presence of vampires was missing a bit, I wasn’t bothered. Truly, the vibe of this book made up for all of that because I felt what Renée Ahdieh wanted to create.
Rage is a moment. Regret is forever.
As for the characters.. I felt like their complexity met my expectations – a good thing too, since I was afraid that wouldn’t happen. Céline, our main character, was layered. Her past, her demons, her own values and ideas, her courage to stand up for the latter. It made for one hell of a female character!
Bastien, on the other hand, is the dark and broody male I’ll forever love. Every time he made an appearance, I couldn’t help but whoop. I wanted more of him!
Then there’s Pippa, Céline’s friend who’s soft in a way that made perfect sense and balanced things out a bit. Last but not least, there’s Odette, a female with the tendency of wearing a male’s clothes who isn’t interested in men! How can I not support that? I truly wish to find out more about her. Maybe a book from her perspective? Please?
As I said already, I did like the writing. I can see why people wouldn’t like this book because of the same reason because.. I feel like it’s more about the atmosphere and slowly building up than it is about action and making progress in the story, if you know what I mean? I was in the mood for just that, which is probably why I did enjoy The Beautiful the way I did. Some descriptions might have been a bit too detailed though – just throwing that out there.
Apart from another element regarding the ending, I did.. quietly yell when finishing the book. It’s not that things surprised me – at all -, but more that I need the freaking sequel already.
“I imagine it would be freeing to care only about oneself.” She heaved a dramatic sigh. “Alas, I am not a man.”
There’s also a bit of a downside to this book, though. Personally, even though I liked Céline most of the time, I sometimes got irritated with the way she constantly reminded herself of her “dark side”, as if we needed to hear over and over again what she’d done before coming to New Orleans. It was a bit over the top.
After all, hope was its own kind of magic.
Secondly, vampires only make a true appearance at the end of this book. I don’t think it’s a spoiler saying this since everyone knows it’s about vampires. It is quite disappointing that it comes as this “turn of events” while.. well.. we did know all along, so where’s the surprise? I guess that ending could’ve been done differently.
If you’re in the mood for a slow-paced fantasy novel with a dark and gothic vibe to it, this might just be the one for you! I enjoyed it for those reasons and I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel!
Have you read The Beautiful? What did you think?
Are you planning on reading it?
What’s your opinion on bringing vampire back to the bookish world?