Title: The Beautiful
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: October 8 2019
Publisher: Penguin Teen
Genre: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Goodreads Rating: 3.73 (of 1596 ratings)
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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.
Tbh, I had debated whether or not to go for this one or not. I was always super eh on vampires, and while I did enjoy Ahdieh’s previous works, I still had issues with them. However, I was sold with the 1800s New Orleans setting, and Sha’s overwhelming enthusiasm for the book. However, this book brought a mixture of the beautifuls and the bites, and by the end, it was just okay?
🧛 THE BEAUTIFUL: Celine. I can see not everyone will be Celine’s biggest fan, but dear gosh, I loved what Ahdieh did with her character. This story was so feminist, and Celine’s character was responsible for so much of it. She was so strong emotionally, physically, and mentally, and I loved how she challenged everything – the other characters, societal norms, and the “traditional” role that a woman and “good girl” is supposed to play. Okay, she got a little cheesy sometimes with the “inner creature” or “inner demon” thing, but what she brought to the story was amazing. I had so much fist pumping action with the feminism that Ahdieh was spreading, and I really enjoyed her characterization so much.
🧛 THE BITE: Okay, like, this was Twilight??? Like, I mean, it was and it wasn’t. I had saw a review mention it, and then as I was reading, I started realizing all the comparisons between the two. There were just so much that had me going, this is Twilight?? See below for a quick list:
Slight spoilers: Love triangle with 100% Jacob-like character; instalove; “family” of supernatural-like characters; Alice-like character (Odette); second book hints at a separation; villain was comical (with female character taking revenge at end); an actual lion/lamb comment; moody, broody love interest who doesn’t want to pull Celine into his world of darkness
Now, Celine was far more feminist than Bella, and Bastien was far less creepy than Eddie Dearest, but the similarities were striking at times, and I was able to 100% pick out plot points because I felt/had seen it before. I didn’t mind it super much, though, but it was enough to bug me.
🧛 THE BEAUTIFUL: The setting. Omg, Ahdieh created a lush, haunting atmosphere in the heart of New Orleans. This totally fit the bill of a wonderful gothic novel, and I loved it. What I love the most about a paranormal or historical fiction novel is being pulled into the mood and atmosphere, and this book did it with ease. Despite this novel having a slower pacing, I flew through this book because I was so enthralled with the stunning New Orleans 1800s vibe and feel that Ahdieh had created.
🧛 THE BITE: Speaking of that pacing, it was quite slow. The first 60 – 70 pages, I was so in love. I had even messaged Sha was like THIS IS IT. But after that, it just…slowed. And sloweddd. I mean, I still flew through this book, but I wasn’t committed anymore. I was just trying to get through it without really connecting? Ahdieh did create a book that was easy to read, but I felt like it just dwindled in the same spaces, waiting for something to happen. It really just lost a lot of momentum.
🧛 THE BEAUTIFUL: Despite some of the major bites, I still felt like it was quite fun overall? Like, it was good campy fun, and I was definitely entertained. As I mentioned before, I’ve never enjoyed a vampire novel really before, but Ahdieh made vampires really intriguing for me. Vampire lovers might not enjoy it a lot because there wasn’t a giant amount of vampire content, but it just right for me.
🧛 THE BITE: I never really enjoyed any of the other characters besides Celine and Pippa? Everyone was just okay?? I didn’t really get the magic of Odette, and Bastien was just okay?? And I did not get the intrigue with Michael. He was so much meh. And everyone else kind of felt like a blur??
Overall, the beautifuls and the bites equaled out to be just an okay read.
rating: Belle because I mean it was okay? Just okay? And French!! And Shakespeare!!
representation: biracial MC (Asian & White), love interest from Taino and Spanish backgrounds, other side characters from different ethnicities including black, Indiana, and more
content warnings: death, murder, kidnapping, attempted rape
read this if you: you are looking for a gothic romance novel with a dash of vampires that are reminiscence of Twilight
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!