I’ll be honest and admit I’ve never read any of Renee Ahdieh’s other books, and while The Beautiful, a historical fiction vampire book set in New Orleans, piqued my interest, it took me awhile to get around to reading it. The book came in my October BOTM YA box and I didn’t read it til early January…and it took me like four days to read it. If you know me, you know that’s a long time. It’s not that the book was bad it just…wasn’t something. There was a plot, obviously, but it was kind of hard to nail down. Was it romance? Was it a serial killer? Was it vampirism, or demonism, or magic? Why wasn’t the killer actually the nice nun girl like I hoped?
Anyway….The Beautiful is set in the late 19th century in New Orleans. Celine arrives fresh off the boat, literally, from Paris, where she is running from her past and a crime she admitted. She goes to live with some nuns at a convent. Almost immediately she gets an offer to make a dress for this fancy lady, Odette, but that requries her going out at night. She goes out, meets Odette and the weird Court of Lions people she runs with, and then…she finds the dead body of a girl at the convent, Anabel. Someone is killing people in New Orleans, ripping them apart, and maybe they want something from Celine too. Throw in a handsome “demon” named Bastien who rules the Court, an elusive uncle, a lot of talk of food and fancy dress, and you ultimately have a book that is…alright. It’s nothing special.
I might get the second book, The Damned, from the library when it comes out, but there’s just a lot of factors in the book that don’t…seem to matter. Even the “killer” aspect didn’t make TOTAL sense to me at the end. I mean, I get it, and I understand the motive as stated…but I don’t “get” how it impacts Celine…at all. Or why she and Bastien are so drawn to each other other than just sexual tension. Or what the hell the Court of Lions DOES really, or why some of them have powers. I mean, yes, it is TECHNICALLY explained towards the end, but not in a satisfying way. Its also about 420 pages and could probably be 300 flat, if you know what I’m saying. The book wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t special, and I now understand the lackluster reviews.