Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1) by Renée Ahdieh



Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher:  G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 8th 2019
Source: ebook (Netgalley)
Rating:

42265183

Summary:
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 La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien'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.

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Review:
*This book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
It's 1872 in New Orleans, Celine Rosseau just arrived after being forced to flee her life in Paris. She is a refugee in the Ursuline convent, where she and six other girls are staying until they are able to make a suitable match for marriage.
New Orleans is new and vibrant but it seems that the darkness that chased Celine out of Paris has accompanied her to her new city. Quickly she becomes aware of La Cour des Lions, a shadowy group of people that follow the rule of their leader Sébastien San Germain. Bastien quickly grabs Celine's attention, with his dark aura and mysterious glint in his eye.
When dead bodies drained of blood start turning up, Celine realises that killer has his mind set on her. In the midst of these bloody and gruesome crimes, Celine does her best to deal with her new situation and her growing attraction for the mysterious Bastien. She must also find a way to stop these murders, which becomes more and more difficult as her security gets increasingly endangered.
Celine starts to discover that something else is going on, something out of this world. No one offers any explanation as to what it might be and Celine finds herself trying to piece it together on her own. How can this mysterious facet of her new acquaintances be related to the gruesome murders that had been happening in New Orleans? That is what Celine needs to find out before she is killed herself.
The Beautiful is a highly anticipated return to the world of vampires. With its setting in 1800's New Orleans, its romance and otherworldly aspects and its gruesome murders this is a dark and ominous fantasy book. It explores without shame many themes of sexuality, race, feminism and societal repression in the 1800's and one of its main strengths is the wonderful setting in the both dark and magical New Orleans.
Celine is a very, and I repeat, very powerful main character. It should be highlighted that Celine is a character that reflects the very dynamic and varied society of the 19th century, she stands out from the usual whitewashed main characters in books set in that time. Here we are presented with a woman capable of making beautiful things, she is a seamstress of Parisian couture, but that also has a dark side to her soul. In my opinion, that is what I found the most appealing in Celine: she has a dark side, a side that seeks danger and enjoys peril. She does not need anyone to defend her, through her the reader gets a look at desire, darkness and power from the point of view of a young woman.
Another aspect that should be highlighted about this story is the fact that the main character is not the only developed character: much care was put into weaving layers on other characters so they mostly feel multidimensional and realistic. A character I would like to highlight is Odette: she is the character, besides Celine, that I craved to read about. Every time you find Odette within the story you learn new information about her, a characteristic, a taste, a liking, a motivation. This is something that also happened with Bastien and something I really enjoyed reading.
Even though my review and overall thoughts of this book are very positive, I do need to address some problematics that arose during reading. The French passages of the book were not translated for the readers (nor the Italian) which can create some impairment in understanding certain parts of the plot. There were also some world building problems and some confusing details about the mythical side of the book: honestly, I still do not know what are the Brotherhood and the Fallen. Knowing that this is a series, I hope some of these problems are addressed in future instalments.
Overall I ended up loving this book and reading it really quickly. I believe one of the main mistakes in marketing this book as the successor to Twilight since I believe it is very strong on its own and the expectations created by that statement only decreased the overall opinion on this book. I would advise this book to everyone, especially if you like Anne Rice books. This story has a very complex and compelling setting which is raised up by the beautiful setting and the diverse cast of characters and it is also a very easy read!

2 comments

  1. I'm definitely due for a vampire novel. It's been a long time!

    I have this book reserved at my library so I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete