Fantasy

The Beautiful: An Entertaining Vampire Tale, but Not Perfect

4/5 Stars

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher/Imprint: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Edition: Hardcover, 425 Pages

Publication Date: October 08, 2019

A Spine that Shines: Fairly Well

 

*I received this book for free by redeeming points through Penguin Reader Rewards. It did not affect my review of this book. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

‘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.’

-Renee Ahdieh, The Beautiful

Initial Thoughts

The Beautiful was not quite what I expected, as seems to be the case with most books I’ve read this past month. I’ve previously read three of Renee Ahdieh’s earlier novels and loved them. This particular novel was entertaining, but not perfect. At first, I was going back and forth between 3.5 or 4 stars. But I ended up going with 4 stars since I think the ending of the book took a rather interesting turn, and I have a feeling I may enjoy the sequel more than the first book.

Here are a few quick things I wanted to point out:

  • Image 11-18-19 at 11.42 AM (9)I really liked the historical New Orleans setting in this novel. I thought it was a creepy, interesting location that I don’t often get to read about.
  • The obvious strength of Renee’s writing is her ability to write lush descriptions, as many other readers have noticed. Renee succeeds in making the 1872 New Orleans setting come alive in a very vivid, atmospheric way.
  • Renee’s writing style is lyrical and poetic. Sometimes, sentences come across as a bit dramatic – such as when a sentence is split in two for effect. But overall, it has a lovely cadence.
  • To be honest, this book did feel a little long. Sometimes, when elaborate descriptions or talk of high society fills the pages, the pacing slows down a bit. Thankfully, the pace near the end of the novel picks up nicely.
  • The descriptions of clothing feel authentic; the author definitely did her research on the clothing of the time period.
  • It is also interesting to see people of many different cultural backgrounds as characters in this story. I liked the different languages that are included in the dialogue. There were moments in which I didn’t fully understand all of the lines, but I could usually get the gist of it if it wasn’t translated on the page.
  • The murder mystery aspect of the story caught my attention, too. I like a good mystery! Celene’s progress with this particular mystery proceeds a bit slowly, but I enjoyed following along while she played detective.
  • There are tons of references to Shakespeare, and I loved those!
  • The first-person POV chapters from an unknown narrator are intriguing. However, I do think readers are kept in the dark perhaps a tad too long. It might have been beneficial to understand what was going on earlier; because the reveals do feel squished into the end of the novel, I didn’t really have time to process everything in my mind.

‘She was not a victim. She was a survivor.’

-Renee Ahdieh, The Beautiful

Characters & Romance

Image 12-3-19 at 5.18 PMHere are a few things I want to point out about the characters and the romance:

  • The characters in The Beautiful are okay. I think the characters are the novel’s main weakness. There are quite a lot of characters in this story to juggle, and overall, I felt they could’ve used a bit more development. If either the “quantity” or “quality” of the characters in a story must suffer, I generally prefer there be fewer characters with stronger development/background.
  • Some of the characters have repetitive phrases or actions attached to them. I believe some other reviewers have also noticed this. Odette laughs quite a lot. I lost count of how many times. Bastien is repeatedly referred to as “Lucifer” or the “devil/devilish.” Celine’s heart “pounds/thrashes” a lot, and there are numerous remarks made about how her bosom is almost bursting out of the top of her corset.
  • Celine herself is spunky and determined, with a will of iron. I did like these particular qualities of hers. She leaves Paris and comes to New Orleans to start her life over after a terrible past event. I appreciated that the author did not withhold this information from the reader.
  • Bastien is involved in the New Orleans underworld. After finishing the novel, I still don’t feel as if I really know Bastien. For a while, I was confused whether he was a vampire or not. I was a little confused what the other members of the Court of Lions were, too. (If I understood everything correctly, I do believe this is clarified near the end.)
  • It feels as if Bastian and Celine don’t truly know each other, either; the romance in this novel is pretty much based on instant attraction, which greatly differs from the romances in the author’s previous novels. I typically prefer slow-burn romances. Here, Celine and Bastien practically want to kiss each other after their first encounter. Their attraction seems mostly based on appearances, and I felt I needed more evidence of the characters actually earning each other’s love over time in order to fully feel the impact of the ending.
  • Michael, a New Orleans police detective, is introduced as a love-interest for Celine. However, I was not feeling real chemistry between them. We’ll see if that changes in book two.
  • One character-related aspect that could’ve used better explaining is the area of the various feuds that have been going on between different characters. What exactly is the cause of the war among the immortal creatures? What exactly did Nicodemus do to anger the present-day killer(s) to such an extent? Why exactly does Bastien hate Michael so much? If the answers were given and I somehow missed them, then please let me know! But as of now, I think the author sometimes tries to imply things, when it would serve better to actually specify the answers.
  • Related to the character feuds are the Fallen, the Brotherhood, and the Otherworld. I think these three categories could’ve benefited from more explaining as well. I still don’t fully understand the magic or creatures in this book. How does a human become a vampire? Is there a spell or something? How do these vampires live? What do they require to live? (It doesn’t seem like they go around sucking people’s blood all the time.) Why is it such a “curse” to become a vampire?  What is the process for removing a person’s memories?

‘Strike a wasp’s nest, and you will be stung.’

-Renee Ahdieh, The Beautiful

Final Thoughts

Overall, The Beautiful was still entertaining, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel! That ending made me really curious about how events will unfold in book two. I’m anticipating the author will likely expand on all the Otherworld stuff in the sequel. Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? Happy reading 🙂

*Content Warnings: Several uses of the f-word and s-word; reference to an attempted rape in the past; bloody vampire bites; mutilated bodies; one romance scene that is fairly steamy.*

‘But you must never forget. All the world’s a stage.’

-Renee Ahdieh, The Beautiful

Up Next on My TBR: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things (ARC)

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 6.44.41 PM

Spines that Shine

2 thoughts on “The Beautiful: An Entertaining Vampire Tale, but Not Perfect”

  1. Great review! I’ve been going back and forth on whether I want to pick this one up. I think I might give it a go when sequel comes out. Having read some reviews I think I’ll be able to manage my expectations better.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s