The Beautiful- Renée Ahdieh ARC Review

‘I should hope so. Knowing who you are is necessary in order to determine who you want to be.’

Please let it be noted I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to NetGalley and Hodder&Stoughton.

It feels very fitting that the first ARC I ever review is the book that ticks so many of my boxes. Vampires, New Orleans and morally grey characters? Its like the book was written for me.

It’s 1872 and Celine Rousseau is fleeing to New Orleans. Abandoning her life in Paris as an accomplished dress maker she takes refuge in an Ursuline convent as she restarts her life among her fellow society sisters. What first seems to be a city of decadence and luxury quickly shows itself to be run by something entirely darker. Who are the Court of Lions? And what connection do they have to the murders that have began to plague the city?

I thoroughly enjoyed the world woven by the author. The sheer glamour of New Orleans is captivating and I love how real the city feels as the novel goes on. The descriptions of the clothes, the food and the parades are so immersive and I could even feel the humidity described in the city. The location was important and I really felt it was written very well.

Overall we have a wonderful cast of characters. Celine is fanastic protagonist with a stubborn streak and an even sharper tongue. Her interactions with the male characters are the best since she refuses to be treated as anything but an equal to them. She is educated, she is stubborn and she doesn’t care about what you think of her. The female friendships gave me a lot of hope for future YA books in the genre and especially for representation. There are many characters of colour in this book and some very worthwhile discussions are brought up.

Now we have to talk about the vampires. The creatures of the night. The undead. One of the issues I did have with the book over all was how there is no confirmation or presence of what I consider vampires until at least half way through the book. I feel like the vampire aspect of the book is pushed very heavily in marketing and is not a big part of the story. This will definitely change I think in future books but for this one be aware.

The other issue I had with the book is the pacing of the plot. Where I went into this expecting a dark, gothic stort with vampires, a murder mystery all taking place in a convent I got more of a feel that this was a murder mystery with a romance. And some vampires later on. The first half of the book is definitely a lot slower than the second which is far better but I do think this book is a good foundation for what is going to be a more expanded world overall.

Overall this is a highly enjoyable that starts off slow but definitely delivers in the end. The writing is intoxicating with some wonderful characters but definitely is lite on vampires if like me, that’s what you came for. It’s still a book I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys books like The Diviners.

The Beautiful is due out on 08/10/2019.

★★★.5/5

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