Also by this author: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 8, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 448 •Format: E-Book •Source: Overdrive
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.
At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.
We were all thinking the same thing, weren’t we? As soon as the news of a vampire YA book coming out hit, we were all hoping this would revive our emo little Twilight hearts (at least, this is certainly what happened to me). After many, many years of vampires being almost taboo in mainstream YA after the slew of paranormal novels that followed the Twilight craze, burning everyone out on the topic. I, however, always bemoaned the decline in popularity of paranormal YA literature so you can bet that when I heard of The Beautiful it instantly shot to the top of my 2019 must-read priority list. However, after the book’s release review after review came out stating it was…not what everyone was expecting it to be. Armed with that information, I was able to go into The Beautiful with reasonable expectations and was overall able to mostly enjoy it for what it was- which was NOT the revival of vampires in YA that we were all expecting.
I would primarily categorize The Beautiful as a historical fiction novel, which is great! I love historical fiction. Set in the late 1800s, it follows protagonist Celine as she flees Paris and arrives in New Orleans determined to start over. Celine was an apprentice of a master dress maker in Paris, and I loved reading about the creations that she makes and the historical detail that goes into the descriptions of clothing in the novel. It’s unique and is a trait that sets Celine apart from other protagonists. Her skill with a needle leads to her introduction to a set a rich, mysterious group of wealthy folks from New Orleans who are part of a “court” which ultimately leads sets the stage for the paranormal activity to begin, driven by the continued mysterious murders of young women happening across the city. But there’s still not really any overt signs that “this is a vampire novel happening” even after Celine becomes involved with the court.
While there were not as many vampires as I would have hoped, like vampire novels of past there IS a love triangle. Now I don’t mind a love triangle if it is well done, however I just couldn’t bring myself to care about either love interest and honestly thought Celine was way more interesting than both of them. The main love interest, Bastien, really felt like a “this is what a hot, mysterious historical fictional alpha male love interest” should be and I really didn’t feel like he had a personality until maybe the end of the book. I was much more intrigued by the female cast of characters, from Pippa, Celine’s new best friend who is running from her own demons in England to Odette, a mysterious member of the court who claims she is a seer. It was also hinted that everyone in the court had some sort of paranormal power but this was all really glossed over and never really explained in detail and I personally kept forgetting who the different members of the court were *shrug* It was also hard to really feel the stakes because I felt like I didn’t have any backstory on the court, their powers, Bastien’s scary uncle, etc. Basically any part of the story that wasn’t about Celine’s own journey was sort of lost on me.
The end of the book ended on quite a big cliffhanger, and the events lead me to believe that the sequel will actually focus more on vampires and the paranormal than this novel did. Despite some of my lackluster thoughts on this particular story, I’m intrigued enough to continue on and hope that book two will bring more vampires to the table.
Overall: While The Beautiful was a book rich in setting, description, and personality of the protagonist, it really lacked substance and definitely lacked vampires. The writing was pretty and I’m intrigued enough to continue on with the second book (though it’s not at the top of my TBR) I don’t feel it’s a book that’s really going to stick as a staple in the YA paranormal genre- although hopefully it is hinting at a revival of it!