REVIEW: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh
Updated: Jan 1
Our story is set in 1872 and we are introduced to our main character Celine Rousseau. Celine moves from France leaving behind her father and a terrible secret to New Orleans. Along with a friend that she m
akes on her way there, Pippa, she finds herself captivated by the city. Her and the
other girls that board the ship to their new life will live and work at a local convent. However, when Celine gets there, she finds that her skills are not as transferrable as she once thought. So instead of working at the convent, she finds that she can make a bit of money by trying to sell her handmade handkerchiefs.
Whilst selling her handkerchiefs at the stall, a young girl called Oddette recognises her talent and asks her to make her a dress for the upcoming masquerade ball. Celine accepts but must clear this through Mother Superior at the convent. Celine and Pippa head off for the address that Odette gave them and come across somebody getting hurt. She steps in and helps the victim but she catches the eye of the young man harming the victim. His name is Sabastien. They finally reach their address and find that it is a restaurant called Jacques’. They ask for Odette and are lead to a room filled with gamblers of the rich kind and beautiful men and women.
Filled with intrigue, Odette admits that everybody in that room possesses some kind of magic, and admits that she can read a person’s future with a single touch. But suddenly they hear a scream and find Annabelle, a girl from the convent, dead. Celine is afraid that they might find out about her past, which includes murder, that she ran away from. Trying to get her story straight, she and Pippa sit down to talk but find that Bastien has sent his friend Arjun to help them. Turns out he didn’t really want to help them; it was more of a ploy to keep his name out of it.
Oddette wanting the dress at no matter what cost, invites her back to Jacque’s and the conversation steers to Bastien, he walks in and hears them talking about him. There’s this infatuation between the two even though they would deny it immensely. But when he saves her from a ‘creature that flies’ they embrace and kiss passionately. Celine decides that they must remain friends despite their feelings for one another.
Enter the second love interest, Michael. Michael is the detective from the murder of Annabelle. They find that they have some sort of connection even when his Nonna makes her soup. But it is made to feel like the connection is more one sided on behalf of Michael.
Celine moves out of the convent due to the sisters not wanting her to stay there anymore due to what’s happened since she arrived, blaming her for the deaths and destruction. She moves into Nicodemus’ old hotel. In time for the masquerade ball, she finishes Oddette’s dress and wears one that she created for herself. Whilst at this masquerade ball, she finds everybody looking her; the reason unbeknownst to her, she has a bite on her neck and is suddenly taken away.
She finds herself awake on the altar at the Saint Louis’ Cathedral. She finds out that it was Nigel that took her and asks him what he is. He claims he is a vampire and shows her his teeth. He licks her wounds on her neck. Bastien enters, after frantically searching for Celine, with a revolver drawn. Bastien distracts Nigel enough that Celine is able to stab Nigel in the neck with her dagger. But this is not enough for him to go down; Nigel escapes but leaves Bastien wounded. Celine begs Nicodemus to save him, but there’s only one way for that to happen: to turn him into a vampire. He doesn’t like the idea of this but Celine begs him nonetheless, she will do anything for him. In return for turning Bastien into a vampire, she has to relinquish her memories of him and anybody associated with him. She agrees.
She wakes up next to Michael and finds that she is confused and is missing a big chunk of her memories. The epilogue gives us a clue of who the big bad of the next book will be and that is Bastien’s sister who should have died in a fire but somebody saved her, a werewolf. Now she seeks revenge on her family, as they should have saved her and not him.
Overall this book was great. I loved delving back into vampire lore once again as it brings back memories of the twilight days of YA. This new take coming from Renee Ahdieh is one of brilliance and I can’t wait to read the next book.
3 out of 5 stars.