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The Beautiful

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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.

425 pages, Hardcover

First published October 8, 2019

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About the author

Renée Ahdieh

24 books17.4k followers
THE WRATH & THE DAWN and its sequel THE ROSE & THE DAGGER are available wherever books are sold.

FLAME IN THE MIST will be released on 5.16.17.

** Please note that requests for Advanced Reader Copies should be made through Penguin, and all other requests should be submitted through the author's website. **

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5 stars
7,335 (22%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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2 stars
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980 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,215 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
July 24, 2019
No matter where she went, danger followed.
And it horrified her. Just as it thrilled her.

I did end up quite enjoying The Beautiful. Let's face it, mix in some scary vamps with a sexy forbidden romance and how bad can it be? Still, there were a number of issues that prevented me from loving it. But it is a book for teens, and after nine years on Goodreads I'm somewhat less of a teen than I was when I started. So I don't feel like being too harsh.

It's 1872 and Celine Rousseau has just arrived in New Orleans, fleeing her life in Paris and a dark secret. She is taken in by a convent and lives with six other girls until the nuns can find a "suitable match" for her. If you've ever been to the French Quarter of New Orleans, you will know the intoxicating otherworldly vibe the city gives off-- and it is undoubtedly the perfect place for a supernatural murder mystery. Which is exactly what Celine soon finds herself caught up in.

Bodies drained of blood begin to appear, and Celine can't help but believe it is all linked to the mysterious La Cour des Lions-- an underground society made up of those with special abilities. The leader is the equally mysterious Sébastien Saint Germain, who Celine can't seem to get out of her mind. Thrills abound!

One of the major issues I had was that I have no idea why this book is set in the 1870s. Nothing is done with the historical aspect, and all the atmosphere of the novel comes from New Orleans itself and could have been achieved just as easily with a modern setting. The jarring anachronisms made it really difficult to believe this was 150 years ago. Celine herself thinks and talks like a modern girl who has time travelled back to the 19th century, and the early mentions of the sexism and racism of the time seem to have no real bearing on the story. La Cour des Lions appears to treat men and women, people of colour, and LGBTQ people equally.

Why bother even having it be a historical novel?

There's also so much repetition. And not all of it is convincing. Take Bastien. The first time Celine compared Bastien to the devil, it was quite sexy. By the fiftieth time, I was so sick of hearing him referred to as "the devil", "Lucifer", or "devilish". Not only was it tiring to read, but after a while I found myself wondering just what Bastien had done to earn such a moniker. He's so baaddd, apparently, but he spends most of the book being nothing more than a mild-mannered young guy who smirks a lot.

The other repetition was about Celine's "inner creature" and, my god, I was getting serious Fifty Shades of Grey "inner goddess" flashbacks.

Also, also, why is the lead police detective basically a teenager? And a gorgeous one at that? Actually, I know the answer. It's so we can have some kind of faux-love triangle in the next book, isn't it? And I say "faux" because who actually wants her to be with Michael??

Sexiness + vampires, though. I've never been able to resist that combo. I'll be back to see how this goes. That almost-sex scene was promising.

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Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 23 books32.2k followers
October 9, 2018
I read this book as Renee wrote it, which meant that she sent me sections of it, I read them and then got really upset because I didn't have more, and then pestered and bothered her until she gave me the rest. I finished it recently and it is FANTASTIC. An incredibly ornate, lush New Orleans; characters who imprint themselves on your memory forever; a story that is nail-biting and swoony and satisfying and tense ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And of course...VAMPIRES.

This is a one of a kind book, by a singularly original author. Add it to your TBR because you won't want to miss it.
August 23, 2021

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When this book was announced, everyone was like, "Woohoo! Vampires are back!" And I was sitting there in the corner, swathed in black and clutching a glass of wine, thinking to myself, "Fools! For some of us, vampires never left." You see, I love vampire stories and always have. For many, TWILIGHT was the "gateway book" into vampire fiction, but I'd been reading L.J. Smith's Night World and Bram Stoker's Dracula and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes's Den of Shadows years before it came out; Lost Boys was my favorite movie, and I was trying (but failing) to cultivate Anne Rice, as I much-preferred the chunkier books of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro with their dense historic montages, and entire paragraphs that are odes to food and fashion as written by someone with a deep and undying passion for history. So, in short, I freaking love vampires. I want you to keep that in mind, that this review is being written by someone who is obsessed and has been for a while. It is important.

THE BEAUTIFUL is about a girl named Celine who lives in a convent with a bunch of other girls in 19th century New Orleans. A beautiful terror is stalking the city, killing innocent girls. Celine is laboring under a "dark" secret that she must keep hidden at all costs. There's a secret society of beautiful people who are more than they seem. Everything is beautiful, even death-- because for some, it is not the end. *evil laughter*

(Seriously, why haven't I been hired on as a blurb-writer, yet?)

I don't want to go too deep in to the plot for spoilers' sake, but there's a love triangle between a mysterious, possibly supernatural boy and a police officer. The "attraction" between both is suspect, as Celine goes from hating both these boys to finding them charming basically overnight. There's a secret society that ends up welcoming Celine and she finds herself the obsession of a depraved and self-absorbed evil guy who likes to wax on and on about how powerful and artistic he is in his first person interludes, which had me rolling my eyes a little. Not much happens-- there's fancy dresses and some murders, but between that there's a whole lot of nothing and Celine's "dark secret" is actually kind of horrible (and not in a good way), and I honestly don't understand why it was such a big deal or why she felt so guilty about it. Celine is such a passive heroine and I really didn't like her.

Oh-- and the book with no resolution. Because there's a sequel.

Here's my person issue with Renee Ahdieh: all of her book summaries sound amazing. She writes books that, without picking them up and going only by the summary, sound exactly like the types of books I want to read. A retelling of Arabian Nights? YES. A retelling of the Ballad of Mulan? YES. A vampire story set in New Orleans and laced with Gothic elements? YES YES YES. But then I pick them up, and each time, like Boo Boo the fool from Yogi Bear, I end up finding myself betrayed all over again as I encounter not awesomeness, but very empty, pretty writing that is too busy being mired in its own overwrought nature to move the plot along; cardboard characters; and plots that literally take 400+ pages to accomplish what could have been done in 250. WHY.

The biggest problem that I personally have with THE BEAUTIFUL is that it is a conglomeration of elements that appear to be borrowed or inspired by vampire stories that already did it better, and it still isn't a good book. The hero's name, for example, is Bastien Saint Germain and I did wonder if that was taken from or inspired by the alchemist, Count of St. Germain, especially since Sebastian's uncle is actually a count. He was a fascinating historical figure who made all sorts of weird claims, like that he was actually 500 years old. You might think that would make him ripe for being incorporated into a vampire myth, and you would be right, only Chelsea Quinn Yarbro-- that author I mentioned earlier-- actually already did that, with her Saint-Germain series.

The concept of angsty and flamboyant vampires living it up in New Orleans is also not new or novel, as that was done by Anne Rice with her Vampire Chronicles series-- which then set the mode for ceaseless imitations and fanfic (despite Rice's "no fanfic" policy), especially in the 2000s, when Interview with a Vampire was made into a movie with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, and everyone suddenly decided that a vampire was a nobody unless he or she spoke with a French accent and wore a ruffled and very expensive cravat. Another similarity is that Anne Rice's hero is named "Lestat de Lioncourt" and the paranormal entourage Celine encounters in THE BEAUTIFUL is called "The Court of Lions."

You also can't look at that cover and tell me that it isn't trying-- either actively or subconsciously-- to capitalize on the nostalgia and the branding of the TWILIGHT books. The black/white/red color scheme, the font choices, and the central photograph set against the black cover are all very reminiscent of the Twilight series' cover art, as well as several paranormal copycats that rose to prominence at the peak of the YA paranormal craze.

To clarify, I'm not rating low because of these similarities, but because if the author was reading and researching into all these different worlds to write her own vampire book and still managed to write something that was mediocre and uninspired, that is 100% on her. What I think Renee Ahdieh was trying to do was to write a book that would appeal not just to her YA audience, but also to vampire fans who would notice all of these vampire references and clap their hands in excitement at each bat-winged Easter egg. That, if that is what she was trying to do, is not a bad tactic in principle and it really could have worked if this book had actually been what I, as a vampire fan, look for in fiction.

I have no problem with books that were inspired by something else and have Easter eggs and clever winks and nods to their original sources if they do a good job and pay proper homage to what they're inspired by. That technique was precisely what made READY PLAYER ONE so popular. It was greater than the sum of its parts, but each individual part was also special on its own. Authors also should read, and actively, in the genres they want to write because it teaches them not just what they should do, but also what they shouldn't do. I've read books that were clearly inspired by other books but managed to do them better, case in point: Pippa DaCosta's Messenger Chronicles, clearly inspired by the paranormal science-fiction books of the 1960s and 70s, only with a strong female protagonist instead of an outmoded white guy with questionable morality.

No, I'm rating low because this could have been the READY PLAYER ONE for vampire lovers, and it ended up being a tired, washed out imitation. That's a crying shame.

If you are new to vampire fiction or like Renee Ahdieh's, um, unique writing style, then you will probably really enjoy this book. She has a pretty devoted fanbase and must be doing something right, even if I personally can't appreciate it. But if you are a veteran of books in the vampire genre and were hoping for something new or homage-worthy, or have been burned by Ahdieh's books in the past as I was and hoping that maybe she'd changed her tune, you should probably save yourself the disappointment and avoid this book.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!   

1.5 to 2 stars
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
October 7, 2019
if theres one city that promises the haunting presence of the paranormal, its new orleans. and i, for one, am so happy the crescent city is finally being showcased in all is vampire glory.

i was actually very worried to read this. its one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 and the reviews that have been popping up have been a little less than positive. but either i read a different ARC or i am just a simple girl who doesnt need much to be entertained, because i found this to be quite splendid.

renee ahdieh is the queen of duologies so, while i admit that other readers are right when they say the pacing is super slow, i know a great foundation is built and the plot will be much faster paced in the next book. i will also concede that there isnt much focus on vampires. there is a great deal of mystery and secrecy surrounding the city and its society. while the reader can infer what many of the characters are, its never confirmed until the very end. based on the conclusion, the focus will definitely shift in the next book, with it being very vampire heavy. like i said, this felt like a foundation building beginning, which i didnt mind in the slightest.

i feel so bad that this disappointed so many, but i thought it felt like a classic ahdieh story. so obviously, i loved it!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
December 30, 2019
2 Stars

I'm kind of torn on what I want to rate this and how I want to review it. On one hand, I definitely found myself flying through the pages and being very interested in how things would play out...but on the other hand, I was also left with this feeling of unfulfilled satisfaction the whole time I was reading it.

But let's back up a little bit.

When I learned about this book, I was excited. This was my first Ahdieh book (although I have a couple of hers sitting on my shelf waiting to be read) and I have heard nothing but good things about her writing. Also, vampires in 19th century New Orleans...very Anne Rice and all that jazz.

I think a lot of people of a certain age (aka those who were teens when Twilight came out) have this erroneous belief that Twilight was the first big vampire book series to ever hit the stands. However, vamp stories have been around forEVER.

During my teenage years, it was Anne Rice, Christopher Pike, Christine Feehan...adult, YA (before it was really called that), and romance...all there for the devouring. And devour I did.

Did I read and enjoy Twilight too when it came out? Sure. But one of the unfortunate effects of the success of Twilight was the sudden over-saturation of the reading world of all things vampiric. Suddenly, everyone wanted to write about vampires. Especially romance and YA authors. Everyone wanted to be the next Stephanie Meyer in much the same way that so many have tried to replicate the success of Harry Potter.

And, after any period of TOO much of anything, the pendulum always swings the other way. Meaning, it suddenly felt like authors were avoiding the vampire trope like the plague. And all we readers got to cleanse our palette a bit.

So when this book was announced, it kind of felt like it represented the next coming of solid vamp stories, I suppose. Or maybe all of that is just my opinion and completely baseless. Either way, I was really looking forward to reading this and even joined the Book of the Month YA box so I could get this thing for a $9.99 steal.

And all I can say is...


The New Orleans backdrop was somewhat well done, although there was also a lot of French that never gets translated for the reader. Also, the world-building left a lot to be desired. There is the Court of Lions, something called the Brotherhood, and another group called The Fallen...none of which truly ever get explained, even at the end.

None of the characters are fully fleshed out and the main romance is like a tree with pretty leaves - but no actual root system.

Much like the writing. It's like Ahdieh is trying for purple prose (which I loathe by the way) but merely succeeds in sprinkling overwrought metaphors and similes that stand out like sore thumbs throughout a book already plagued by too many flowery scene descriptions (that don't actually describe much, by the way) and really poor character building.

But most of all, I just didn't like Celine, our main character. I think she was supposed to come across as a sassy, strong woman who just wanted respect and equality as a female...but for me she merely came across as a whiny brat who bemoaned the horror and unfairness of being treated as a beautiful piece of meat with no brain (edited: and no I am obviously not talking about the attempted sexual assault she suffered here, snowflakes, I am talking about other references)...but would then turn around and try to use said beauty and wiles to get her way. It felt hypocritical and I didn't like or respect her as a result.

In general, I just thought many things about this story were murky and convoluted. The world-building, the characters, their motivations...everything. You can definitely tell this is all meant to unfold over the course of a series. And Ahdieh seemingly wrote this in such a way as to hold enough back to keep us coming back for more. In my opinion, she just simply held back a little too much.
Profile Image for Renée Ahdieh.
Author 24 books17.4k followers
May 12, 2019
IDK . . . I guess if you like vampires and stuff, you’ll probably dig it 😘
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,302 reviews43.9k followers
July 24, 2021
Oh lalala the idea of a book takes place in NOLA, one of my mystic, magical, gothic, entertaining city to pass a good time excited me so much. Mardi Gras celebrations, a crowded streets with its people dancing 24/7, delicious jazz quartets, boat tours around Mississippi river, cocktails at Carousel Bar and tours at the haunted places still perform voodoo (Wow! This city summons the witch hid inside me!)

And of course it’s so normal to expect something spectacular from the author of “Wrath and Dawn” series. The blurb warns us there are vampires, murder mystery and of course a forbidden, hot, heart throbbing, magical love story. JE SUIS SUREXCITE! DONNE MOI ÇA! See even my language settings turned into French because of too much excitement. To celebrate my new reading I opened up Dauvissat Domaine Vincent Chablis (bought with my mother-in laws credit card, when she finds out I’m sure she will make her counter attack by stealing my sweets at home. But thankfully we don’t have any sweets left! His big bellied boy a.k.a husband dearest already consumed them all including toothpastes, splenda pockets)

But now I’m so ashamed to tell my total points are 3.45 rounded down to 3 stars ( if you ask me what happened to this critical 0.5 point, I say, LACK OF THRILLING PARTS AND ROMANCE ATE MOST OF THE STARS!)

I was expecting too much but as I start to read I feel like inflated balloon and my big hopes to love this book begin to float accompanied by Pennyweise!

At the late 19th century Celine Rousseau arrives in NOLA, escaping from her old life she had in Paris, leaving her dark past behind. She joins a convent, living with six different girls till a proper young groom is found for her to make an appropriate marriage. But the darkness surrounds the city, a killer on the loose reminds us Jack the Ripper who chooses the young woman victims to cut their throats. (He mostly chose the prostitutes, but this time murderer mostly chooses the woman with dark pasts. So he is the punisher of sinners, nothing new my friends!)

Blood drained bodies start to be seen at the streets left behind. Celine thinks all those murders are connected to La Cour des Lions, a secret, mysterious underground society which has gifted members who have special supernatural abilities.

All those definitions worked with me but at the end of the book I said: SO THAT’S ALLLLLL???? A weird and meaningless sacrifice for creating a cliffhanger to read the second book. IS THAT ALL FOLKS? ( Woody Wodpecker gives its signature laugh!)

I felt betrayed because:

I couldn’t catch anything so mysterious and special about Bastien. Celine and he spent only one night out together so maybe I bought the reduced version of the book because I couldn’t catch when they fall in love, what make them so attract with each other? Why Michael Grimaldi (reminds me of Michael Corleone before he chooses the dark side) fell for Celine so fast? Is there any secret spell the girl uses on the man so without spending so much time and seeing her at the first time make them fall for her hard!
Where the hell were the vampires? As a die-hard Anne Rice books fan ( I even liked Charlene Harris’ True Blood- but not the books, the series are better –minus the last season, it was heartbreakingly big disappointment) I also didn’t much like author’s approach to the vampires. Please they are mystical creatures with splendid, heartbreaking past time stories! But the author chose to use vampire as the bad guy of the story ( By the way the twist about the bad guy is not a satisfying conclusion made me scream: GET OUT OF HERE!!! REALLLY!!!!!)

What are the special gifts of the secret organization members? ( Odette tells she can see the future but she mostly acted like artificial, senseless, spoiled rich girl more than a clairvoyant!)

My unanswered questions , wasted, juicy elements and potentials, frustration not to read more dark, bloody, mysterious book with hotter and heartbreaking love story FRUSTRATED THE HELL OF ME…

BUT…I still have hopes the second book gives us the answers we need, more mystery, more twists, more love triangle and more exciting vampire stories. So I still left my 0.45 point for the potential. I know how talented and how an amazing storyteller the author is. So I’m still ready to give the second chance.

Well at least I had an amazing wine, made peace with mother in law by accepting binge watch Breaking Bad series with her( Only that kind of mother-in law can stand me J , forced my husband cook me pasta corbonara in exchange my secret Kit Kat stash ) So life is still good and let’s move to the other book!
Profile Image for Viburnum (hiatus).
22 reviews237 followers
September 14, 2023
A turmoil of agony and why-oh-whys.

Now, I am all for purple-y prose (really, I am!). But there's a fine line between beautiful and absurd—and the prose is about thiiis close from tripping over itself and dropping into the abyssal depths of the latter (cough, "deliciously sooty", cough).
And maybe, juuust maybe, I was tired of the unrelenting abuse. Of Full. Stops. It's a shame, because what beautiful descriptions we read are trapped in weird, fragmented phrasing.

Now, I pushed through, hoping the plot would unfold at some point, but in the first half almost nothing happened—and so, I was deliberating whether or not to put an end to my suffering by suffocation, or y'know, by physically burying my face in this disappointing paper heap of a novel.
Side note: if you're going to write a novel about vampires, maybe write about, I dunno, more vampires?

Oh, and Celine. The strwong female character who did nothing really but bemoan the "sheer arrogance of men" while stewing in an endless cesspit of resentment, indignation and all sorts of nineteeth-century feminist mutinous sentiments. Which wouldn't have annoyed me if it wasn't for the author laying out those feelings for us every five minutes. Not to mention the nauseous amount of flip-flopping around this girl did like a wet dying fish, for how often she changed her mind. And we get it already, Celine was not a "proper young woman" because, yes, she "lifted her chin" (I swear, if I had a penny for every time I read this) and actually kept direct eye contact with another person—the nerve of that girl, indeed!

Oh, and how could I forget Bastien-slash-Lucifer-slash-Beautiful-Devil-slash-apostrophe-I-Am-a-Bad-Boy-apostrophe?
(Yeah, no.)

DNF at 50%.

Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.7k followers
July 16, 2020
TW: mentions of rape; some gore

I ended up enjoying this way more than I thought I would!

First off, this is not a vampire book. I had heard that before reading, and definitely would have been disappointed if that’s what I was expecting. This is an atmospheric, gothic mystery set in New Orleans. The descriptions are lush, and the writing is a bit overdone at times, but overall I felt it was really immersive and I rushed through it. There is a “drawn together but kept apart by circumstances” angsty relationship, but also a hint at a potential love triangle?? But I don’t hate it. The story also touches on race and history, as both main characters are mixed race. Bonus: a pantaloon wearing lesbian friend. There are some vague supernatural elements mostly in hints throughout and we don’t get any concrete supernatural content until the very end. The rest of the series will feature more supernatural elements. If you are into classic supernatural tales (vampires, werewolves, etc) and are okay with a slower but lush story, I’d recommend this.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,936 followers
October 31, 2019
The October Fairyloot Unboxing! I hope I love this book!! Click on the GOODIES LINK below to see the goodies.


WELL SON OF A DAMN BISCUIT EATER!! I didn’t like it at all 😕. Okay, I’m gonna have to drop all my book boxes if they don’t give me more books to love because it’s a waste of money. Thank goodness the goodies were freaking amaze balls!

I was worried when I saw it was this author as I didn’t like one of her other books. She’s just not for me but I’m glad other people like her work! 😉

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Chelsea Humphrey.
1,480 reviews79k followers
Shelved as 'dnf-lost-interest'
September 4, 2019
*sobs* I hate that I wasn't able to push through this one, but I think it's just a case of my not being compatible with the story. Life's too short to force myself to read a book that I probably wouldn't give a glowing review to, so please try this one for yourself and come back and tell me what a party pooper I am later. <3
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,479 reviews19.4k followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
September 5, 2019
DNF @ page 259: This just.. was not what I thought it was going to be and I am sad. I may pick it back up again in October, but I am not risking a slump this close to the ContemporaryAThon 😅 onto the next one!
Profile Image for Cait Jacobs (Caitsbooks).
305 reviews14.5k followers
July 30, 2021
Check out this review (and more) over on my blog!

Quick Stats:
5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 4.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: This book is definitely not for everyone, but it was perfect for me. Everything from the characters, the setting, and the plot- it was exactly what I wanted it to be, and more.

“We forget our dreams, but nightmares linger with us evermore.”

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Gun Violence, Torture, Rape Mention, Rape, Murder, Racism, Racist Slurs, Misogyny //

“There was no way for us to turn back. The tinder has been collected. The match has been struck.
Only one of us can survive the fires of Hell.”

Release Date: 10/8/2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 448

The Beautiful follows Celine as she flees her life in Paris and goes to New Orleans. Staying in the convent, Celine falls in love with the city she's taken refuge in. But when young girls start being found dead, Celine must delve into the dark underworld of the city to find the murderer.

“I am the spider. I set silken traps. I watch as you step into my web.
I wait to strike.
But do not fear. I promise I will never forget you.”

- Writing & Setting-

There are two aspects of this book that I think are causing people to not enjoy it. The first- the writing. If you’re familiar with Renee Ahdieh’s books, then you know her writing style. The prose is elegant, while still including fun banter between the characters and interesting asides. The majority of the book is in 3rd person, following Celine and Bastien, but there are 1st person chapters interjected, told from the point of view of the mystery murderer. While I loved each perspective, I think the mystery murderer was the most interesting (plus they quoted Aida so I love them now). However, the reason I think the writing might be a downside to some people, is that it’s a little dense. If you’ve read Renee Ahdieh, this will be no surprise to you (in fact, I think her writing has gotten even better than previous books), but if you’re coming into this expecting something easy to jump into, you’ll be disappointed.
There is a benefit to the denseness of her writing- it really, really helps set the scene and make the setting feel alive. You can tell Renee Ahdieh did her research when writing this book. The way she describes the food and fashion of the time is absolutely mesmerizing. She captures the sights and smells of 1870’s New Orleans so well, you feel transported there while you’re reading.

“No matter where she went, danger followed.
And it horrified her. Just as it thrilled her.”

- Plot -

Now for the second reason why people might not like this book (or why they might love it!)- the plot. This book is primarily a romance, with a hint of murder mystery, but overall it’s heavily character driven. This book is about Celine, Bastien, and the murderer. It’s about uncovering each characters past and seeing how and why it’s influencing the present. I know a lot of people were excited about the vampires, but the entire vampire aspect really doesn’t play a large role until the latter half of the book, and even then, it isn’t quite what most people (myself included) expected. I think a lot of people were thinking this book would be more like Twilight or other previous YA paranormal romances, but the paranormal aspect really doesn’t come to play until close to the end. For the majority of the book, it’s a historical romance with an interesting mystery.
Despite it not being what I expected, I really did love the plot of this book. It was a little slower, but it was so worth it. And when the plot picks up, it picks up. I didn’t want this book to end. The twists and reveals were amazing, and the suspense was killing me throughout the book. I couldn’t put it down.

“I am not so captivated by the beautiful, monsieur. For I know beauty is only a moment in time.”

- Characters -

The Beautiful has a few important characters, and I love them all so much. Celine, the main protagonist, is such a strong character, whose backstory is really interesting. I wish I could elaborate more on it, but no spoilers. I will just say- they handled it really well. Bastien, the main love interest, is such a fun character. Their romance is rooted in them being equals (and Shakespeare). The side characters are also really compelling, all of them were well rounded and interesting on their own. My only complaint is that by the end, some of the character motivations (and a little bit of the paranormal stuff) are a little murky. And by some of the characters, I really just mean one specific character. However, I think this will all be dealt with in the sequel. Have I mentioned yet that I’m dying for the sequel?!

“The truth is not always what you see.”

- Conclusion -

Pros- Great characters, great writing, great world-- basically great everything
Cons- Don’t go into this book expecting your typical paranormal romance. It’s a lot slower and denser than your average vampire book, but it's still amazing!
Overall- 5/5 stars.
While I can understand why someone may not love this book, I still would recommend it to anyone who is interested. This is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. But oh god that ending killed me and I don’t know how to cope.

“It always ends in blood.”

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Bonus! More Quotes I Love:
“Before dawn breaks, I will know the scars Death left on her soul.”
“Knowing who you are is necessary in order to determine who you want to be.”
“Rage is a moment. Regret is forever.”
“A weed left the flourish is the death of the entire garden.”
“They thought there was no reason to fear me. That I had scattered to the winds, like ashes from an urn. They sought to steal my birthright and instill a false king upon the throne.
They were wrong.”
“Love of any kind is a weapon to be used against you, when wielded by the right hand.”
“Love is looking at someone as if the stars shine in their eyes.”
“The best she could do was hope. After all, hope was its own kind of magic.”

Initial Thoughts:

I feel like this is a book you’ll either adore or hate. I know a lot of people who just aren’t enjoying it, but I really really loved it.

If you’re going into this expecting your typical YA paranormal romance, you’ll be disappointed. This isn’t a fast-paced, action packed story. It’s very atmospheric, rooted in it’s historical setting. It’s mostly character driven, with an interesting mystery on the side. The vampire aspect isn’t as big of a part of the book as a lot of people thought it would be, but I really did enjoy Renee Ahdieh’s take on vampires.

So yeah. I seriously loved this book. From the characters to the setting- it all blew me away and I don’t know how I’ll survive the wait for the sequel!!!!

TLDR: definitely know what to expect going into this book. Its a lot like Renee Ahdieh’s previous novels. It’s not for everyone, but for the people who think they might be interested in it- I highly recommend it!

(Also, this was kinda just my immediate reaction after reading. I’ll post an actually thought out, in-depth review closer to the release date)
Profile Image for Umairah (Sereadipity).
216 reviews111 followers
November 24, 2019
Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5

Usually, I can't stand vampire books but I trusted Renée Ahdieh to write one that I'd enjoy and I'm glad that I did. The Beautiful was a glamorous, mysterious read- set in 1872, New Orleans- that had me spellbound throughout and I'm so excited for its sequel.

Celine Rousseau was a dressmaker in Paris until a terrible event forced her to flee her life there and start a new one in the dazzling city of New Orleans. Soon, she became caught up in a gruesome murder mystery along with a group of people known as La Cour de Lions and she made discoveries that meant her life would never be the same again.

Celine was incredibly reckless, she wanted to live life on the edge and experience everything it had to offer. She was also very headstrong and admirably confident- she knew who she wanted to be and didn't care what anyone else thought about it. However the main reason I loved her was because we both share a deep appreciation for delicious food and she loved eating mille-feuille almost as much as I do! I adored the other characters too. Odette Valmont was the kind of person I wish I was friends with and was always full of enthusiasm and humour. Sébastien Saint Germain was like a more refined and fancy version of Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows and his relationship with Celine was perfect.

The writing and world building were stunning. Ahdieh's vibrant descriptions of New Orleans conveyed a genuine love for the city and I loved the way she managed to weave in themes of feminism and racism into the story too. Furthermore, I liked how many different languages were incorporated like lots of French and a bit of Spanish, Italian and more as well as multiple references to famous works of literature. It made for an extremely multi-faceted and engrossing experience- I felt like I could get lost in the world she created and never find my way out again. Also, the vampires were more subtle and elegant than I thought they'd be and didn't come across as tacky and annoying like they usually do for me (thank goodness they didn't sparkle). The reader is slowly fed information about them and there's so much that still hasn't been revealed that I'm assuming will be in the next book.

A sparkling world, an endearing cast of characters and so much more. I loved The Beautiful and it most certainly didn't disappoint!

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Grace.
129 reviews113 followers
December 2, 2020
This was so good!! I don't know what it is about vampires—particularly vampires who live in the Southern U.S.—but I just can't get enough.

Celine Rousseau travels from her home country of France to New Orleans, where she will stay with a convent along with a group of other girls from Europe until they can each find a suitable husband. Celine makes friends with one of the others—a British girl called Pippa—but Celine find it difficult to fit in at the convent since her dressmaking skills aren't particularly useful there. When Celine agrees to make a dress for a mysterious woman, Celine and Pippa are pulled into the mysterious world of La Cour des Lions, and Celine isn't sure that those she meets are entirely human. Meanwhile, a killer is on the loose in New Orleans, and Celine can't help but begin to fall for Sebastien Saint Germain, the beautiful, young leader of La Cour des Lions.

"We forget our dreams, but nightmares linger with us evermore."

The setting and premise for this book are splendid. First, who doesn't love New Orleans? I think Ahdieh did a fine job capturing the magic and diversity of the city. The latter in particular was handled very well, especially considering that this is historical fiction and a lot of authors use that as an excuse to whitewash their characters. Secondly, I loved the near-constant use of French. I'm not sure what it would be like to read this book without knowing any French first. I mean, I'm far from proficient, but I know enough that I wasn't constantly pulling out Google Translate or wondering what was going on. I was pleasantly surprised, and now I'm wondering if Ahdieh took French in college (mostly just because I go to the same university she went to). Third, vampires. Need I say more? I will read just about anything that has vampires in it, and I wasn't disappointed here, either. Well, mostly. The vampires themselves aren't revealed until later in the book, and we are left with a lot of questions about the vampires at the end. I'm assuming this will be cleared up in The Damned, but I would have liked to have learned more vampire lore in The Beautiful.

The book is, in many ways, very typical YA. Think along the lines of All the Stars and Teeth. The two books aren't super similar, but I get the same vibes in that they are both pretty tame YA fantasy. They're the kind of books that you'll either love or hate. Ahdieh isn't very original with some of the things in The Beautiful, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

The ending has left me with a lot of questions, most of which I can't voice since they'd be spoilers. Mostly, I want to know what will happen to Celine. I want to understand the vampires and the different forces at work. I'm excited that The Damned is from Bastien's POV, but I also feel like I'll miss Celine's perspective.

One thing I'd like to add is that I've seen some criticisms complaining about the love triangle. I hate badly done love triangles as much as the next person. You know what I'm talking about: the girl just can't make up her mind, and she flits back and forth between two guys who are begging her to just pick one of them. This is not at all what is happening in The Beautiful. Instead, Celine is clearly only attracted to one man, despite the fact that two men are attracted to her. This situation is perfectly logical. Celine is never in love with two men at the same time, and in my opinion that means that a love triangle does not exist here. Furthermore, I'd like to add that although Celine is attracted to Bastien from the beginning, she makes it clear that she isn't in love with him. I am happy to report that there is therefore no insta-love, either.

"Rage is a moment. Regret is forever."

Finally, let me say that this book is one of those treasures that has several different things bound up in one. Yes, this is YA romantic fantasy, and yes, it's a historical that takes place in New Orleans, and it's filled with mysterious vampires, but it's also a mystery with some Shakespeare references thrown in for good measure. That is, I think, what makes it not just okay, but good. Long story short, if any of this sounds interesting, please please read this book!

The Beautiful: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Damned: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Tara ☽.
307 reviews279 followers
March 28, 2022
The way the main characters kept quoting Shakespeare like it made them quirky and special....lol

The Beautiful is an apt name for this book, since the main characters are ludicrously beautiful for absolutely no reason at all. The protagonist is the most beautiful girl on the planet and everyone falls in love with her and thinks she's amazing, and of course her love interest is equally as beautiful and they're just both so fucking beautiful that they fall in love after about 4 interactions. Because beautiful people are just destined to fall in love with each other.

Not to mention the fact that the book intentionally hides the main plot from the reader for the first 90%, before you finally start getting some answers as to what the hell is actually going on. This means it hinges on you being interested enough in the romance to keep reading, which is one of the most unconvincing cases of inta-love I've read about in a long time. The only thing that draws Celine and Sebastien together is the fact that they're both just so fucking good looking, and they both have a special, I'm-different-to-everyone-else-because-I-like-Shakespeare complex.

And the way Sebastien kept being compared to both God AND Lucifer made me roll my eyes so hard they slipped into the back of my head. I've never met a character with a bigger God complex so undeserving of it in my life. Having a pet snake does not make you a badass.

So much of the story was so weird and hard to follow. None of the characters had any normal reactions to anything that happened; none of them acted like people. The dialogue was stilted and awkward, trying to be poetic and failing miserably. It's the most annoying kind of purple prose: more concerned with crafting a pretty sentence that looks nice than with actually saying anything of note. That means you get a lot of long-winded paragraphs that sound profound when you first read them, but then when you actually examine they reveal themselves to be rather empty and trite. I really don't get along with writing that has this level of obsession with aesthetic over substance.

And don't get me started on how derivative everything was. If you're going to write a vampire book that clearly intentionally plays on Twilight-nostalgia (come on, just look at the cover) at least try and do something original with it. Tell me if any of this sounds suspiciously familiar to you: a 'blood feud' between vampires and a certain other supernatural race that enjoys howling at the moon, a main character who's new in town who everyone immediately loves for no reason, the set-up of a forced, bland, boring, predictable love triangle that's definitely going to be arduously drawn out in the sequel? This is just Twilight except make it New Orleans in the late 1800s!

And why is the chief of police an 18 year old kid? Why is Sebastien, a 19 year old, the all-powerful leader of a secret society full of immortal beings much older than he is? Is this world just run by teenagers?

Though I will say that I appreciated the diversity of the cast. These sorts of books (historical supernatural romance) are usually pretty white, so it was refreshing to have characters of mixed backgrounds take the stage for once. And I can tell Renee Ahdieh does have a genuine love for the vampire genre - that much is clear from the acknowledgements. It's just a shame she's not better at actually writing it.

At least this time the main character who everyone falls in love with doesn't pretend not to know she's preternaturally beautiful. Though I'm still not sure why every single character, even the villains, liked her so much. She was kind of annoying and superior, actually.

And the villains just weren't scary or threatening at all. The way they kept waxing poetic about their tragicness and monstrosity made them seem like some kind of hilarious parody of every Byronic villain there's ever been. I just couldn't take them seriously.

Also, for a book about vampires, the actual vampires were barely in it at all. It was basically a historical romance with a side helping of murder mystery and some vampires chucked in at the end as an afterthought. I mean, you know it's a book about vampires, I know it's a book about vampires, we all know it's a book about vampires, so treating the vampires like some massive mystery and plot twist at the very end is just...stupid. It's like, once the actual plot gets around to starting, the book freaking ends.
Profile Image for Erin .
1,274 reviews1,199 followers
July 21, 2019
I received this book through Bookish.com

It breaks my heart to not give this book 5 stars.

If I had to describe The Beautiful using one word that word would be....


The Beautiful was just fine. It wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. I just expected so much more out of this book. The Beautiful was probably my most anticipated book of 2019 and in the end it just left me feeling meh.

The characters were bland.

There were barely any cool vampires

The romance was meh.

The Beautiful's only saving grace was the last 30-40 pages. The way the end of this book was written is how the entire book should have been written.

I already know my opinion about this book will be in the minority. I know this book will be one of the biggest books of Fall and everyone will be raving about it but I just thought it was Fine.

I will probably be reading book 2 but unlike with The Beautiful, I will be going into it with lower expectations.

No rec.
Profile Image for Victoria.
1,000 reviews94 followers
June 10, 2023
This was actually incredible I’m speechless, I just finished less than 5 minutes ago and I’m trying to collect myself...I’m just wow

I honestly knew from the first chapter of this book that it would be something I just adored and I was soooo right. I kept putting off reading it because I wanted to stay in the world as long as I could, if I didn’t stop myself I would have finished this entire book on the first day easily.

This is the first book I’ve read from Ahdieh and holy hell her writing style is absolutely glorious, so magical so descriptive I’m in awe. I loooooved the used of first and third person, between the main chapters and the almost monologued other chapters, it was such a unique way to get into the ~villain~’s head. Soooo well done!

Celine was such an amazing character, her strength, her passion, her fearlessness. She was so amazing, I loved her back story and how she fought all through the book I love her so much. And Bastien??? He’s so dreamy ugh!

I just wow I don’t even know what to say the story evolved so much and I’m just in love with every page...AND THAT PLOT TWIST ?? AND CLIFFHANGER EPILOGUE THOUGH ??? I AM DEAD

Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,746 followers
December 27, 2020
[I did something to the synopsis for TVD/Originals fans somewhere in there]

First, let's get the overused but utterly true pun out of the way: just look at The Beautiful cover 😂 Funny, right!? No.

Now, let's get serious. I'm hear to warn y'all that this is a Vampire conspiracy and the bloodsucking terrors of the night are back to take over. Yes. We. Are. Doomed. It's not a coincidence that Jay Kristoff is also publishing a vampire series in 2020, nope.

And guess what? I'm 99.9% sure Niklaus Mikaelson is behind this comeback. Uhum, the Vampire King, the Original Hybrid, the Alpha, the Big Bad Wolf, the immortal bastard Klaus the Mad...

What the synopsis says: 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. Blah blah blah. 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.

What I hear: In 1872, amid the rule of the Original Family of Vampires known as the Mikaelsons in New Orleans (1700s-1919), seventeen-year-old Caroline Forbes flees her life in Mystic Falls to avoid being hunted down by the vampire hunters, coming to the vibrant city that enamours her with its music, food, soirées and—especially—its danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy supernatural underworld, after catching the eye of the hybrid king, the enigmatic Klaus Mikaelson.

What the synopsis says: 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, blah blah blah. New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—blah blah blah; an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

What I hear: When the body of one of the witches is found headless and drained of blood, the city shakes with the terror of a ripper on the loose...a ripper well known in the underworld, none other than the ruthless Stefan Salvatore.

Caroline is determined to uncover the truth of whether her old love is behind the murders...but in the city's pursuit of the serial killer, old feuds awaken and the three factions—vampires, werewolves, and witches—tear eachother apart, turning the city of life into a city of the dead where, with the excuse of keeping the peace, any who cross the line are viciously executed by the king, the very man who has stolen her heart.

And Caroline wonders if Stefan isn't a loose criminal but, in fact, under Klaus's wing and protection, here to do his bidding—a tyrant with absolute power amidst the fear which has gripped the land...

Yup, that sounds better *nods* this might as well be a Klaroline+Steroline fanfiction 😋 *goes to sulk in a corner waiting for someone to redo The Originals* welcome to New Orleans, I guess *huffs*
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews625 followers
October 24, 2019

This book was so meh. I was excited to delve in again and read about blood sucking vampires... and instead it just sucked out all the enjoyment from a book.

The first half of this was probably a 3- I loved the allure and details of New Orleans and the possibilities of the supernatural.

... But that was it. Other than the setting of New Orleans everything else fell flat for me: there were too heavy/many descriptions of what the MC was wearing, not enough detail on the mysterious groups of people, a MC constantly obsessing over power and an instant love that didn’t make any sense. All of the characters in this were pretty one dimensional which probably adds to the issues I had with the instant love- as the romance was so rushed and seemed to come out of nowhere. The plot at the end of the book I found was wrapped up too quickly and a “surprising reveal” just had me rolling my eyes. I found this book focused too heavily on the MC and the no-sense attraction to a rather dull character, rather than the vampires and murder which drew me to this book originally.

Another issue is that if you do not know french / Italian this book maybe hard to understand. There were many sentences dotted around in these languages, where I would’ve found it helpful to have some form of footnote to understand the translation.

Overall I just didn’t enjoy this book.
Profile Image for aly ☆彡 (hiatus).
346 reviews1,171 followers
September 7, 2022
I am always a slut for these genres, I grew up reading mostly vampire and werewolf books and have come to read an extensive variety of it (on Wattpad you bet). But I think we can really count how many remarkable vampires and werewolves book we have out there.

So when I know this book is publishing, you can only expect the excitement building in me. Not to say they have this wonderful cover that definitely piques my interest.

I think this book fits between paranormal and historical fiction, summarising fantasy romance. And since the whole vampire fiasco starts in the 80s, it is only expected on the flowery romance language which can be appealing (or not). I like it, but unfortunately, mademoiselle and monsieur, I don't speak French.. or Spanish.

Therefore, a few translation would help. Although it did not really affect you in understanding the whole plot, I think some of the phrases I translated helped me to answer my supposition of the other characters, like Bastien's cousins who referred to him as son so I figured them to be somewhat older than him. Alas, that dwindles the wholesomeness of the story because I was puzzled and curious about what they were saying but have no energy in me to open Google Translate every time I encounter one of the phrases.

Secondly, if you prefer a fast pace book, you wouldn't get it in this book. The story goes very slow but I think it still manages to make it intriguing for readers to continue to know what happens next. And the cliffhanger at the end? That really tempts readers to pick up the forthcoming sequel!

I love Celine and Bastien dynamic so much. They both have their own strength as a character that I dote on; which is the only right recipe for the couple to come up with a great romance. The author also offered diverse characters which made me enjoy this book comparatively. I like it because everyone is so different, you definitely wouldn't be sent to sleep.

It also gets a bit angst to me towards the end and I kind of can expect the course and the upcoming conflict for the next book, so am really really excited! Faith in this genre is restored!
Profile Image for Angelica.
814 reviews1,149 followers
Want to read
April 17, 2020
so apparently vampires are making a comeback and I am nothing if not ABSOLUTELY here for it!

Thirteen year old me is reliving her Twilight obsession and I'm so ready for this!!!!

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Profile Image for sarah.
404 reviews267 followers
May 31, 2020
"Sometimes a girl must make her own magic"

When this book was first announced I was above the moon excited, could not wait a single second, counting down the days until its release. Then, early reviews started trickling in- a large proportion of them negative, and I started to have some doubts. I had read The Wrath and the Dawn duology and the Flame and the Mist by Renee Ahdieh- and not given any of the over 3 stars. Scared that this would let me down, I decided to wait until the hype died down a bit.

Now, about seven months later I have finally read this- and am regretting waiting this long! The Beautiful feels like a book written for me, it so perfectly captures everything I love in. From the French influences, to dressmaking, to the aesthetics, to- of course- the vampires. I was enamoured from the first chapter. A major complaint I have heard about this book is its slow pace. I can see why some people would find it as such, but to me that just kept me wanting to find out more. I loved the slow burn of the plot and romance, so it definitely didn't deter from my experience.

the writing
After not loving any of this author's backlist I was a little worried about how I would fare when it comes to the writing style. I think Renee Ahdieh has grown significantly as an author since those, which I personally found to be slightly try hard and overly flowery in terms of the writing. The Beautiful was just the perfect amount of description and exposition for me.

“It's easy to lose sight of what's real when you're lost in the stars.”

the atmosphere
The atmosphere and aesthetics may have been my favourite part about the whole book. I love stories where the setting is so well described that you feel as if you are there, and this one definitely delivered. I have never been to New Orleans, nor have I lived in the midst of the 1800's, but I felt like I had while reading this. For readers who are more plot driven and don't necessarily need a well developed world to enjoy a story I can see how that could come across as boring, but I adored it.

the plot
In terms of the actual storyline, I found it engaging. I enjoyed the mystery element of who the killer is, and it kept me guessing. I thought I had it all figured out about halfway through, but I never saw it coming. That being said, I did find the ending slightly underwhelming, but won't get into it due to spoilers.

the characters
I found all of the characters likeable to some extent, and I found them a huge upgrade from the typical protagonists from early 2000s paranormal romances. Our main character, Celine had agency and was strong in a realistic way for that time period. I also unsurprisingly loved Bastien. I don't think I will ever get tired of the bad boy, slightly damaged character. Finally, I cannot talk about the characters without mentioning the one, the only, the iconic Odette. As soon as she was introduced I thought she was such an interesting and complex character that I cannot wait to hopefully discover more about in The Damned.

"why must we wear corsets even while we eat?"
"Because men enjoy keeping us in cages at every waking hour. That way we're contained. They're afraid of what would happen if we were free"

the verdict
overall, I had such a good experience reading The Beautiful and cannot wait to see how the story progresses in the sequel. I can understand some of the criticisms leveraged against this book, but I think knowing before I went into it to lower my expectations slightly was beneficial. If you haven't read this yet and are interested, I would recommend it keeping in mind that this is a slow burn story and not to expect too much action.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
625 reviews2,016 followers
November 14, 2020
— DNF @32% —

I blame my small tolerance for slow paced books. I literally can probably only enjoy 1 short paced book out of 10. Even then I need characters that intrigue me to keep me going and they were not doing it for me here.

The way I would describe the vibe of this book is The Diviners but make it about vampires rather than ghosts. I didn't even reach the part wherein the vampires were explicitly mentioned... I guess. But that never was a selling point to me so I didn't care much for it. And even though The Diviners is probably just as slow paced at this one, I didn't feel the slow pacing because I was too immersed with the character relationships.

The european setting (especially when they are all specifically in france) gets old easily. Don’t get me wrong, I love the setting. It's probably just because I just read a fantasy set in france and I wasn't in the mood for that.

It's a (very) slow paced story. Nothing was happening up until the part that I read. The voices of the characters felt like something that I have read a hundred times and nothing felt particularly unique to me.

It does have: historical fiction with supernatural elements, diverse cast, and mystery. So if you are into those, you can give this a shot :3

I don't have strong opinions, I'm just... meh. Which hurts because I was looking forward to this and I felt like I was getting dragged along.

“But if a monster takes a life, what kind of creature refuses to save one?”
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,107 reviews6,571 followers
October 31, 2019
“It's easy to lose sight of what's real when you're lost in the stars.”

representation: characters of colour (mc is half Korean, male MC is black and Puerto Rican, side characters include Portuguese rep, Indian rep and Chinese rep, lesbian rep.

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* 4 . 5 s t a r s *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

omgggg this was everything!!! I immediately fell in love with the setting, the characters and the main ship????? MY OTP. I honestly thought I knew where this was going and who the killer was but I was dead wrong! I also love how there's still so many questions and we weren't given all of the answers so I can't wait for the next book!!! LOVE!

“From my heart to yours.”

trigger warnings: fatphobia, gore, murder, religion (catholicism i think?), snakes, racism (challenged), sexual assault (in the past), kidnapping.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
796 reviews2,860 followers
February 21, 2023
But if a monster takes a life, what kind of creature refuses to save one?


Ladies, gentlemen, non-binary fellows, let me introduce you to THE VAMPIRE COMEBACK WE ALL NEED AND DESERVE.
Honestly, these were the esasiest 5 stars I've given to a book in a really long long long time.
I adored everything about this book, including things many other reviewers pointed out as flaws, like how long it took to finally start and how everyone seems to speak 600 different languages all at once, all the time.

The writing is exquisite. I usually find myself snoring my way out of info-dumping chapters or scenes filled to the brim with descriptions, but I truly didn't mind the way the author managed both.
Her Louisiana is simply alive. There were moments I swear I could smell the city around me.
Forget Celine, New Orleans's the real queen, here.

I'm in love with all the characters (Odette and Bastien in particular) and the mystery factor was so good I was a bit sad when I found out who the culprit was.
I've seen many reviews compare it to Twilight and anything Anne Rice, and I've got to agree to a point, but I also found it to be vaguely reminescent of Six of Crows, too, especially in its characters' characterization (sorry for the alliteration) and incredibly diverse cast.
As I've said in one of my reading updates, Odette could be Nina's long lost twin, Bastien is basically a less sulky Kaz Brekker who apparently knows how to not be broody for 2 minutes straight and likes to dance, and his bestie Arjun could give Jesper a run for his money (Six of Crows pun, please tell me you get the reference).

No, seriously, this is the best part. There were so many different, complex and well-crafter characters I sometimes couldn't believe I was reading only one book.
So many backstories, so many voices.
I especially adored that, while their race and sexuality often played a big role in the story, it never felt like they were the only or main characteristics that made said characters interesting.
What I'm saying is, they weren't at all the stereotyped token POC/lgbt+ characters you sometimes read about - those who are there for the sake of a political/social agenda or a quota to fill with pretentious fake wokeness.
They were more than that - not just that, all of them, and it was amazing.

The only complain I feel like having is that I probably would have enjoyed this even more (as if it was possible tsk) if the characters were just a tad bit older. Not much, maybe just a couple years.
Oh, whatever. My immagination can patch the leak up so I'll stop feeling like an old fart whenever I have to read about cool, super mature, adventurous teens doing cool, super mature, adventurous stuff.

The Damned is everything I would have loved to read about when I was still a fake edgy teen who wanted to marry a vampire and only had Bella and Edward (and their absurd sense of style) to feed her fantasy-romance-gothic little heart with.
I don't know if it was done on purpose buuuut I think I was destined to stumble upon this book soon or late, and to disastrously fall in love with it.
I mean...
The black cover, the Gothic font, the title, the red touch...
I don't know about you, I can hear my 15-year-old self yodeling at the top of the mountain.
And this was only the first book!

Oh, and I can totally see this becoming a TV show, by the way. And if they don't cast Zendaya to play Celine I'll be very very very very disappointed.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
538 reviews659 followers
Shelved as 'tbr-highly-interested'
January 16, 2019
So the cover is AWESOME! The Twilight puns had been removed from the final synopsis, which is a good thing, as I know (hope) this book will slay entirely on its own regardless! If this book will be anything at all like the Originals, I'm going to be one happy reader! Bring on the dark and murder-y vampires!


Unpopular Opinion Time: I think indirectly making fun of Twilight in the synopsis of this new vampire book is just too conventional and unprofessional from whoever wrote this annotation (probs not the author). And although I am not a fan of Twilight, I'm not here for it, it's been done too many times for it to be even remotely funny now.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful. And these vampires don’t sparkle. They slay.

On a side not, even though the title is kinda ??? , I'm still really interested in this book as I really enjoyed the author's Wrath and the Dawn duology, and hoping for some The Originals vibes!
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