It’s always a beautiful day when you’re reading (no pun intended). I know that it’s been a while since I said I would review Renee Ahdieh’s The Beautiful, but I have not broken that promise. The day has finally come where I reveal my thoughts on this dark paranormal romance novel.
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. (Goodreads.com)
This book was definitely worth the wait! It is so enchantingly dark and mysterious. Ahdieh captures the atmosphere of New Orleans in the 19th century so well – the parades, the carnivals, the flamboyant and vibrant costumes – and it is what makes this story so amazing. The culture of New Orleans jumps out at you and is unmistakably one of the fascinating parts of this novel.
Then, bring in the vampires. I thought this novel had a very Anne Rice feel to it and it is bringing back the age of the vampire phenomenon. It is very mystical and haunting in a very good way.
A vampire hunts the streets of New Orleans attacking victims and leaving a bloody trail in their wake. Ahdieh writes from the killer’s point of view and it has a very who-dun-it atmosphere except so much more darker and more intriguing. I was constantly guessing who the killer might be and why they had a vendetta against one of the main characters – Bastien.
Celine is the main character of this story and she is drawn into the glittering and fascinating La Cour de Lions. when she meets handsome, enigmatic Bastien – the nephew of Le Comte de Saint Germain. The only problem is that Bastien constantly irritates her with his arrogance and care-free attitude, but she can’t deny the fire he ignites in her. Their first encounter is unforgettable as well as the characters themselves. Celine is self-determined, independent, fierce, and brave. Basically, all the things you could want in a friend. Bastien is arrogant and prideful, but his heart is loyal to those who love him and he will do anything to protect the ones he loves and cares for. Their passion kept me up through the late hours of the night (and into the morning) because I couldn’t put this book down!
The mystery, romance, betrayal, and paranormal elements mixed together so well (like a sweet cocktail drink) and I need more! The ending for me was both heart-breaking and devestating. I can’t wait for The Damned to come out in 2020 so that I find out more about this war between The Fallen and The Brotherhood.
On the note of the Fallen and the Brotherhood, I think that should have been fleshed out more in the first book. I had to go back and reread some passages to see if I missed any hints that indicated what these two races (?) are. I know another book is coming out and Ahdieh is going to most likely explain this in more detail (I mean if she didn’t then what was the point). Also, the revealing of the killer at the end was dramatic and shocking, but I didn’t understand their motivations.
All in all, this is a potentially great series and I hope the next installment doesn’t disappoint!