The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

"'I am not so captivated by the beautiful, monsieur.' Celine met his gaze without wavering. 'For I know beauty is only a moment in time.'" p. 365


Series: The Beautiful, Book 1


I first encountered this book on Bookish First. After reading the sample provided, I was determined to obtain a copy. The setting is captivating: New Orleans, 1872, right around Mardi Gras. There are festivals and parades and the whole city is bright with celebration, despite the recent gruesome murder of a young girl.

A group of girls from various countries in Europe have landed at port and will come to live at a convent, where they will work and hope to be matched with a husband. All are escaping something in their past, making this their best chance for a good life. Celine's past is darkest of all and she is desperate to keep it hidden. However, darkness seems to follow her, and she can't help but admit her increasing attraction to it.

One of the best aspects of the novel is how it challenges the social norms of the era. For instance, minorities have positions of authority and are well-respected, and the fashionable Odette proudly wears trousers. Bastien is a minority and he is widely regarded as the handsomest of devils by everyone who looks upon him.

I had high hopes embarking on this novel. I read it over the course of a week as a buddy read on Instagram with daily discussions. Unfortunately, it wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped. The storyline is just a little lackluster, as are Celine's interactions with her two potential love interests. I was left feeling sort of incomplete after finishing the book.

The ending is a cliffhanger, and the way it concluded is compelling enough that I am excited to read the second book in the series when it is published. Overall, this was a good book, and I'm hoping that its sequel will be even better.

Audience: young adult
Trigger warnings: death, murder, violence
Recommended for fans of: young adult, paranormal, fantasy, historical fiction

Publisher's Synopsis:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans is a safe haven after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent in the middle of the carnival season, Celine is quickly enraptured by the vibrant city, from its music to its fancy soirées and even its danger. She becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's enigmatic leader, Sébastien Saint Germain.

When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in Sébastien's own lair--the second dead girl to turn up in recent weeks--Celine battles her attraction to Sébastien and suspicions about his guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

After a third murder, New Orleans becomes gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose--one who has now set Celine in his sights. As the murderer stalks her, Celine finally takes matters into her own hands, only to find herself caught in the midst of an age-old feud between the darkest creatures of the night, where the price of forbidden love is her life.

At once a sultry romance and a decadent, thrilling mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet.


Purchased copy

©G.P. Putnam's Sons: October 8, 2019
Hardcover, Book of the Month edition
425 pages

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