The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh, review: Stunning first book in an exciting new vampire series

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
First Book in Series
Published: October 8th 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 448
Genre: Young Adult, Vampire, Historical Urban Fantasy

Spoiler Free Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In 1872, Celine Rosseau moves from Paris to a convent in New Orleans in order to escape her past. A mysterious group called La Cour des Lions dominates New Orleans and Celine soon becomes acquainted with the group and their leader, Sébastien Saint Germain.
A set of gruesome murders begin to occur around Celine risking both her life and those she knows, she battles with deciding on who she can trust.

This could possibly be one of my favourite vampire books of the 21st century. It was elegant, mysterious, atmospheric, gruesome, and enthralling. I could not put this book down. I was captivated from the very first page.

The characterisation of vampires is often make or break for a reader on whether they will enjoy the book. There’s a fine line between cheesy and believable but I really adored Renée Ahdieh’s take on vampires. They appeared powerful and cunning but did not lack any personality. They were intriguing and mysterious but not cliche.

The dialogue was well written for the time period it was set in and not over the top. We slowly learn information, not all at once, but throughout the story in a way that builds excitement, dread, and tension. I particularly liked how some chapters switched characters so that I could find out further details about characters which I wouldn’t haven’t know from Celine’s point of view.

At the same time I’m glad that not too much about the supporting characters was given away, creating a sense of smoke and mirrors. I definitely felt on edge not knowing everything. You really didn’t know who to trust or what to expect from them.

I enjoyed the rivalries, tension, dark motives, feelings of pride and loyalty, and the meaning of belonging. All the things that make a good vampire book.

There was an element of romance in this book but I’m glad it didn’t overshadow the killings or the murder mystery that was happening in front of Celine. The thriller aspect of the story really kept me turning the pages. Though it would have been nice to have a few more hints dropped in so that I could enjoy screaming at the book while Celine was none the wiser.

Celine is a strong, determined, likeable lead character with a backstory that gives her depth. I did find that sometimes she raged a little too much and she goes into some of her plans a little blindly, but she is a young character with the potential to make mistakes and I definitely found myself on her side most of the time.

I loved the pace of the story. I did want it to go too quickly and I’m glad that Renée Ahdieh took the time to describe a the lush world of New Orleans, and small details like the colour of a gown, or the smell of a room.

The descriptive writing definitely had some of the same flair as the Vampire Chronicles, rich, elaborate, elegant, dark and authentically old. But the story still felt fresh and new, and I enjoyed every word and every character.

Now that the exposition is set, we’ve been dropped into this exciting new world, and we know what to expect of these dangerous vampires; I hope that in the next novel we get to find out even more about them and where they’ve come from.

I’ve already received an approval for electronic advanced reader copy of The Damned through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I can’t wait to start reading it and let you know what I think before it’s published this summer!

To quote every vampire film ever; ‘I want more!!’

Author: Jen (Jen of Books)

I'm a UK book blogger - occasional booktuber. I like to read YA fiction, dabble in photography and creative writing, and explore the world. I also like the odd cup of coffee.

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