By Rénee Ahdieh
Before I start I just want to say. I love Ahdiehs works. Her Flame in the Mist duology has me hooked, she writes beautiful, lyrical prose that make your heart weep. So I had very high expectations for The Beautiful.
Alas, I was sorely disappointed.
A young girl, Celine, travels from France to New Orleans, running away from her murky past. But the past catches up with her and death follows in her path. Throwing Celine into murky shadows of a dark underbelly hidden behind the beautiful faces of the undead.
When I first read the synopsis of it this book I thought ‘yes! Vampires!’ It’s been an age since I got my hands on a fabulous YA vamp book! And because it was Ahdieh I was hugely excited!
But the book is not all it’s cracked up to be and I found myself hating the idea of picking it up. The prose, that I have previously described as lyrical, we’re lacking in her usual beauty, they were repetitive and dull. The amount of times the protagonist described *one of the love interests* (ahem, really bad love triangle going on here) as a “devil” had me retching at some parts.
The characters were half formed piles of goop with pretty faces, you never really got to know any of them properly except Celine.
Odette had so much potential, but throughout the long-winded paragraphs of inane description of dresses and devils with pretty faces, you don’t get to know her half as well as you should, and this is the same as the majority of the characters.
Sebastien (or Bastien as his friends refer to him), also has potential, but you see so little of his character, except his handsomeness, that you end up caring very little about him in the end.
My main dislike about this book was Celine herself, now, I am a HUGE lover of strong female protagonists, but Celine does no justice to this.
Instead of being strong Celine is deceitful, small minded, self-loathing and self-loving all at once. Treating her one and only friend with disdain, believing herself better then her actual betters. This is a girl who is running from her past instead of facing it head-on and then treating others as if they are common idiots and she the queen. She regularly describes herself as being a ‘goddess’.
Overall I found her extremely hard to like, and ended up hoping the killer would shut her up.
The plot itself was slow. With so many needless and endless descriptions of shadows and gut feelings and pretty, devilish faces and feelings of ‘other’ (which apparently only Celine can figure out because she’s oh so smart). The book could easily have been half of its length had Ahdieh not been using so many adjectives to describe one thing. Over and over again!
Another irritation was the fact that this book is supposed to be set in the 1800s. But there was nothing in the story that made you feel like this was needed. You had a protagonist that spoke like she was from the modern world and had ideals of that of many a modern female. These ideals would not have been so openly expressed back then as they are in this book. None of the writing sat well with the era in which it was supposed to be situated in.
Overall, the book was a huge disappointment.
Although, from page 340 to the end, it did pick up in pace and I found myself wanting to finally read it instead of put it off. But there are only 425 pages of the book….
I’m still debating whether or not to give Ahdieh the benefit of the doubt and attempt the second book when it is released later this year.
I have it 3 🌟s