Review: The Beautiful
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Title: The Beautiful
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Date Published: October 8th, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her 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.
After fleeing Paris, Celine is taken in by a convent in New Orleans along with several other girls, who are in need of help finding a suitable man to marry. They arrive just as a spate of mysterious murders starts occurring.
The setting of New Orleans was perfect for a magical and otherworldly feeling, a feeling enhanced by La Cous des Lions, a well known but very dangerous society made up of people with special abilities. Celine quickly finds herself entangled with this group and their infamous leader Sébastien Saint Germain. While Celine can’t stop thinking about Bastian, she questions the society’s involvement in the murders.
It was a fun premise and an interesting read, however, whilst the historical setting felt right, it could have been more pronounced. It felt as though Celine was a modern woman complementing right and wrong, and whilst sexism and race are mentioned they certainly aren't a prominent feature especially in La Cour des Lions, so the historical aspect felt somewhat pointless? The convent aspect fit perfectly but aside from that, not much else was very relevant or mentioned much in the story, especially as Celine seemed to think and act exactly like a modern woman.
I enjoyed Bastian as a character however I spent a large amount of the book trying to work out why he was supposedly so awful – as he’s constantly referred to as the devil - when really, he seemed clever, caring, and funny. Odette and every side character were well placed and contributed to the story. I was confused as to why the detective was so young, this seems wrong as surely, he should be older? I imagine this was done specifically to have him as a romantic option. Overall, I enjoyed the book, murder mystery and vampires are always a yes for me. The murder mystery aspect was intriguing, and I was dying (pun intended) to know who the killer was throughout the story. I loved the setting and the concept, the relationships built were great and very enjoyable to read but it was a little slow for me. The ending was very unexpected and left a large cliff-hanger, so I am excited to read the next book to see what happens and if it gets resolved.
Rating: 3.5 Stars.