Title: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8, 2019
“But I was intrigued, for I possessed an errant young soul of my own. From Childhood, I hid it beneath pressed garments and polished words, but it persisted in plaguing me. It called to me like a Siren, driving me to dash all pretense against the rocks and surrender to my true nature.
It drove me to where I am now. But I am not ungrateful. For it brought to bear two of my deepest truths: I will always possess an errant young soul, no matter my age.
And I will always be the shadowy creature in darkened alcoves, waiting …”
Yeah, that’s kind of a long quote, but you really get the vibes for the story so I couldn’t resist. The Beautiful follows headstrong Celine Rousseau as she leaves Paris and her past behind to embark on a new journey in a new city brimming with possibility and adventure. But when murders start happening around her, Celine fears the city’s danger isn’t as glamorous as she thought and she must uncover the city’s secrets to stay alive.
Things I Liked
As one would expect of Renée Ahdieh’s writing, The Beautiful was superbly written. There a sly grace that perfectly reflects the setting and genre for the story and creates the most haunting seductive and mysterious atmosphere. I really loved getting chapters from the murder’s perspective – they were both chilling and alluring, a perfect combination to keep you engaged.
19th century New Orleans was the perfect setting for a dark vampire story. You get the dark magic aura of the city combined with the way the city is intrinsically alive and thriving, even in the face of such a looming threat.
I thought Celine was a very strong character. I loved (and respected) her zeal for life. She wants freedom and adventure and she will not be shamed for it. I really enjoyed seeing Celine come to terms with her identity after keeping her Asian heritage secret for fear of being outcast from society – she allows herself to embrace all of her parentage and it was great. She cares deeply for the select few she counts as friends, and she will protect them at all costs, even using the darkness she sees in herself.
Sebastien is one suave aristocratic criminal leader. His charisma and charm will just pull you right in. He’s the epitome of a brooding bad boy, but that’s why you love him. I loved seeing him in the middle of the Court of Lions – the glitzy New Orleans underground crime ring -and it showed his power and sway among the people of New Orleans.
Michael Grimaldi is probably meant to be a bit of an antagonist. As the police chief who keeps getting in the way of Celine’s investigation, he’s not high on her list of favorite people in the city, but there was something about him that I really liked. I feel like Michael and Bastien are two sides of the same coin, so of course I love them both.
Things I Didn’t Like
The angsty romance stuff was a little on the nose for me. While I did like Celine and Bastien, especially in the beginning, I had a few eye rolling moments the more they interacted. And there is most definitely going to be a triangle of some sorts, or at least a one sided triangle that may cause some complications for the couple in the future.
While I really enjoyed basically everything, I do think that The Beautiful suffered from book 1 syndrome, where the end of this story felt like the climax for the overall story and not really something that hold very strongly on it’s own. And there was some stuff that wasn’t addressed yet that I think is important for the overall mythology, but I am very eager to learn more about this world and the supernatural creatures that inhabit it.
The Beautiful brings seductive supernatural creatures back to the forefront of YA with enchanting writing, mesmerizing characters, and a setting as deliciously wicked as the creatures that haunt it. I was hooked from the very beginning and I did not want to stop reading. Even though there were a few weak spots for me, I loved each element so much that I’m eagerly awaiting book 2. And the inclusion of more supernatural creatures!
“I’ve heard many people say tragedy shapes us,” Bastien continued. “But I am not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, nor am I the worst thing I’ve ever done. Nothing in life is that simple.”
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All quotes are taken from an uncorrected proof and may be subject to change.