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The Beautiful – Review

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

Synopsis: 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.

And the infinite captivates us because it allows us to believe all things are possible. That true love can last beyond time.

Review: This book has been on my TBR for quite some time, but the waitlist for it at my library was absolutely atrocious. However, this book came available through my library on the same day that I was approved for the ARC of it’s sequel earlier this year – fate, right?

I’m not usually one who likes paranormal stories, especially those involving vampires. However, this one really intrigued me, and I thought that it was really well constructed. I usually find vampire romances to be cheesy, and way too focused on one of the main characters wanting to be “turned” by the other. This book was nothing like that. While it did focus on the characters, the story revolved around the mystery of the serial killer.

The characters in this book were really intriguing. I was draw in to most of them from the first time that I was introduced to them. Celine was such an interesting protagonist, especially when placed in the context of this period in history. She was so independent and spunky that I fell in love with her immediately. She was a take-no-shit kind of girl and I loved her for it.

Meanwhile, Bastien was…sexy, intriguing, enigmatic, shadowy, and downright awe-inducing. Needless to say, I love him. I thought that his character was revealed in such a delicate way. We never had more information than was necessary, but we also had exactly enough for each moment. I think that the writing of his character was some of the best I’ve seen.

One of the things that I LOVED about this book is the extreme amount of diversity in the cast. Aside from two secondary characters, all of the cast are POC. And of those two white characters, one of them is a lesbian. Yes. There is a lesbian vampire in this book. Cue me swooning. I loved that this world painted a fantastical view of the decade post Civil War. While it takes care to point out that historically, these characters wouldn’t be on the same societal footing as the white characters, it creates reasons why they are in the book (and it’s not even all that historically inaccurate, as New Orleans was one of the most progressive cities in the era directly following the Civil War).

One of the biggest detractors from this story for me, though, was Detective Grimaldi. While his character is interesting, every time he would come on to the page, I would be taken out of the book completely, and my suspension of disbelief was interrupted. It was frequently mentioned that he was a childhood friend of Bastien. It was also frequently said that Bastien and Celine were both seventeen. It can then be reasoned that Michael Grimaldi is about the same age as Bastien. In which case, he would be a renowned detective in the police force at the ripe old age of…18? 19? I get that it’s fantasy, but this was just too fantastical for me to believe. I think that the author should have aged up all three characters if she wanted to continue with the idea of Michael being a detective, rather than just a lower ranking police officer. Because of this, I had to take a full star from my rating, because it was just too egregious.

Overall, I really like this book, and honestly, I started the second one just moments after I finished the first! (Keep an eye out for that review, coming tomorrow!) I love the fantastic world that Renee Ahdieh has crafted. The French Quarter is the perfect setting for an American vampire novel, and I was not disappointed by this delightful novel. I can’t wait to see what all happens in the second novel, because (spoiler alert!) that ending was KILLER.

When life becomes difficult. the only source of strength we have is love. Love of others, love of self, love of life in its entirety.

Have you read The Beautiful? What did you think?


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