Title: The Beautiful
Series: The Beautiful #1
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: 8th October 2019
Date Read: 7th October 2019
Genre/s: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance
This is a dark and deeply ominous historical fantasy that explores both race and feminism and I enjoyed it so very much! The plot was definitely not what I was expecting, however I found myself extremely intrigued and interested early on.
The Beautiful takes place in 1872 New Orleans, and we follow seventeen year old Celine as she first arrives and takes refuge in the city ruled by people who are very much not your average human. She quickly becomes entranced by the vibrant city, music and revels, not to mention the mysterious Le Cour des Lions led by the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain.
“But a greater fear lurked deep in Celine. Past the rush of blood, into the marrow of her bones. No matter where she went, danger followed. And it horrified her. Just as it thrilled her.”
I loved the choice of setting, New Orleans fits the magical, and creepy vibes so well and Ahdieh's writing really did it justice. If you love the setting in 'The Originals' tv show then I think you'll love reading this book.
I think the main reason many reviewers haven’t enjoyed this so far is that it wasn’t what they were expecting or wanting, for starters there isn’t much in terms of vampires, it’s more about the mystery behind what’s going on than specifically about vampires. And the marketing is certainly setting it up to be the book that brings back vampires, which in my honest opinion isn’t what this is. The next book will no doubt delve more into the lore and magic and the vampires, but this book first and foremost felt like the beginning of a story as so many questions are left unanswered and Ahdieh spent a lot of time slowly building the foundations.
“It's easy to lose sight of what's real when you're lost in the stars.”
Ahdieh manages to make you so worried and anxious for the main character and you're constantly wondering what's going to happen next. I found the whole mystery plot line quite refreshing and I think it really added something unique to the story. The mysterious plot really drives the book forward at an increasingly addictive speed, the more I read the more I wanted to keep reading. In addition the atmospheric suspense had me on the edge of my seat.
"...the infinite captivates us because it allows us to believe all things are possible. That true love can last beyond time.”
Similar to Renée Ahdieh's past work; 'The Wrath and The Dawn', The Beautiful focuses quite a lot on character development and relationships and I'd probably say there was a higher focus on developing the romantic relations than I was expecting. And I can see how that could put someone off, especially if they don't like a lot of romance in their fantasy or historical fiction. This didn't bother me at all, in fact I was thriving while reading about the relationships. It's just something I love in books, but do keep that in mind if that's not really what you're looking for. But if you love a good angsty romance then this is your kind of read!
There are a few half-hazard info drops towards the end, that in my opinion aren’t explained clearly enough, but I’m sure questions will be answered in the sequel. In addition I felt like the reveals were surprising, but the way they were set up was quite predictable, if that makes any sense. But overall I loved the direction the reveals go and I’m very excited to read more in the sequel: ‘The Damned’ next year! Overall the beautiful is exactly what the title suggests. It is a beautiful story and Renée Ahdieh once again has created something I have ultimately fallen in love with. I would highly recommend giving it a shot if you're fans of ominous stories and captivating writing. You'll no doubt be sucked in by these wonderful characters.
Rating: 4.5 Stars!
Thanks for reading!