Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I have loved all of Renee’s books and The Beautiful was no exception! Once I started reading I was completely hooked!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Renee has made me completely and entirely fall in love with her books and her writing. Ever since I read The Wrath and the Dawn I have been hooked! If you haven’t read any of her books then you need to go fix that asap!
The Beautiful is set in New Orleans and although I don’t know much about it, after reading this book I most definitely want to go and see it. Renee’s writing is beautiful and you become completely immersed in her world. She creates this wonderfully dark atmosphere with rich and vivid world building from the setting to the clothes and food. I could see all of Celine’s beautiful clothes and was practically salivating reading the scenes which describes the food they ate.
I’m a girl who’d rather experience life than watch it pass by from my window
One of the things I love about Renee’s books is that her female main characters are all so wonderful and Celine is no exception. She is smart and witty and outspoken. She fights for what she wants and doesn’t let anyone walk all over her. I related to her so much and how she was so tired of being told what to do and being treated as if she isn’t capable of doing anything herself and just needs to be saved by a big strong man. She is a badass and won’t allow men to talk for her.
And of course a Renee Ahdieh book would not be complete without a swoon worthy male main character, in the case of The Beautiful, his name is Bastien. Say hello to you newest book boyfriend. I loved him from the moment we met him. He is roguish and charming and because we see him from Celine’s point of view it made him really mysterious and intriguing, and even though we know that is no gentlemen you can’t help but fall in love with him.
And I really loved the scenes between Bastien and Celine. They have such great witty banter and the romance that slowly builds between them is intense and left me screaming at them to just admit their feelings! The angst and the tension that builds up between them was done so well! I also really loved the side characters, every single character is so complex and there’s more to them than we initially see from them.
It’s the land of the free in idea only, then.
One of my favourite things in this book was seeing how diverse it was! All the diverse characters including both Celine and Bastian. And I really loved how Renee showed the social inequalities and how being a person of colour meant they were limited in what they could do in life despite being capable and qualified and how unjust that was. It was also interesting to see that Celine was white passing and as a result of that she had to hide half of herself and her heritage to the point where she doesn’’t even know anything about her mother and where she is from and so feels like she is missing part of herself but that because of this she is able to take opportunities that would otherwise be denied to her.
The story itself is intense and thrilling and will keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to know more. It kept me up reading late into the night because I was so enthralled by it and I just needed to know who the murderer was. We are slowly given the information and as it becomes more tense near the end and then when all is finally revealed you are left with your mouth hanging open because you did not see that coming! We are left on one hell of a cliffhanger and I have no idea how I am going to wait until next year to get my hands on the next book!