Oct 17, 2019

Review--The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

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.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

The Beautiful was one of my most anticipated fall reads for this year and I have to say that Renee Ahdieh out did herself with this one! While it wasn’t the full-fledged vampire tale my dark little heart was pining for, it was still a darkly, beautiful tale indeed.

Celine escapes her past in Paris by venturing with other girls to New Orleans where they are meant to better themselves and find suitable husbands and all that jazz of the 1800s life for young women. We quickly learn that Celine actually killed a man, though the circumstances of why filter through later on, but after knowing Celine for a handful of pages, you know it’s not something she would’ve done lightly.

Celine is a seamstress and when another young woman named Odette asks her to create a gorgeous gown for the upcoming costume masquerade, she agrees despite the Mother Superior of the convent advising against it. It’s when she and her friend, Pippa, another of the girls from the convent are off to meet Odette for measurement that they meet the mysterious Sebastien Saint Germain. While other girls normally swoon, Celine isn’t as impressed and already we have moments strife with tension brewing between these two. During this time the body of a young girl is found brutally murdered and a second body appears the day after Celine meets Sebastien.

I will admit that the pacing to this one was a little slower than I expected. It wasn’t bad as there’s marvelous story development happening along the way, but all the while I kept wondering where are my vampires? Sadly, they are not necessarily front and center in this story as I had hoped but they are there in the shadows hiding somewhere. It’s really not until the very end that they make an appearance while before they were only alluded to. I was making suspicions over the who’s and what’s and was rather surprised by the outcome.

Renee is definitely a master at writing those slow-burning, hate-to-love romances! I feel like her previous duologies had this sort of amnesty between the characters before they submitted to their building feelings. Though I have to say there’s a slight difference to this one. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly but as you’re reading you’ll notice it in the most subtle of ways. For while Celine and Bastien weren’t head over heels for one another at first glance, there was still an attraction that was immediate between them, yet, of course, because of circumstances, they could not pursue anything.

What I found interesting about this one within the murder mystery was getting excerpts from the killer’s point of view. It was slightly trippy in some sense as Celine and Sebastien’s points of view were told in third person, then the killer pop ups and it’s first person. It did make that point of view stand out from the others but as I said, it was sort of trippy if you know what I mean! Lol.

I feel like there’s still a LOT we don’t know about this story and the wait for The Damned will likely drive me insane! A great deal happened in the final moments of the book and soooo many other things were revealed that had me gasping in shock! It was seriously one surprise after another! And while I found it exciting when reading, it all came to a crashing halt when reality kicked in that I have another 8 months of waiting for the sequel! The ending was a jaw-dropping experience and that’s putting it mildly!

I went into The Beautiful expecting a sweeping tale of vampires, romance, and murder and while two out of the three isn’t bad, I was pining for those vampires! Yes, they are in the story to some extent, but I was hoping for a more focal point of view of them. Alas, it seems I will be getting just that in the sequel possibly, it’s that pesky matter of waiting that I hate contending with. I suppose if I’ve waited nearly 10 years for a fresh tale of vampires I can wait another 8 months…*grumbling*

The Beautiful was not the vampire tale I was hoping for, instead I was swept away with a dark mystery filled with murder and suspense! The characters were absolutely pleasing and relatable and this book was pretty much everything else I had hoped it to be and I would absolutely recommend this one to anyone really. Just be aware that the vampires, while there, are a little hard to find…this time around!

Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars 


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