Before we start on to the review, I need to fangirl a little bit. I got to meet Renée at BookCon (see the pictorial evidence below!) and she is just the sweetest. I was super excited to snag an ARC of the Beautiful in a giveaway later at BookCon – the cover is absolutely amazing and plays right into my personal aesthetic. In my excitement to meet Renée, I accidentally ended up in the middle of the line for the Starless Sea ARC drop, and idiot me left to be the first in line for Renée (hindsight is a bitch!).
PUBLICATION DATE: 08/10/2019
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Fleeing from her past, young Celine lands in New Orleans in the midst of a mysterious murder spree. When people start being killed around her, she seeks refuge with a mysterious lady benefactor at the Cour des Lions, and gets pulled deeper and deeper into the supernatural mysteries of 1800s New Orleans.
OPINIONS: Sadly, this one did not quite live up to my expectations – that is not to say that I did not like it, but I was so hyped for it that my expectations went through the roof, and very hard to actually meet. As with Renée’s earlier books, the writing in The Beautiful is amazing, which is a large part why I decided to still give this book 4 ✶ despite its flaws. She has a talent for magical storytelling that pulls you right in and barely lets you leave her worlds.
I read the first half of the book in one sitting, staying up past my bedtime because I couldn’t bear to put it away. Mysterious characters in beautiful historical costumes, a mystery, and a feisty heroine are all catnip to me. I also loved the recurring references to Shakespeare, who I might slightly be in love with, blame my English degree! Celine is everything I love in a main character, flawed, struggling, but smart, rebellious and confident. She and most of the other central characters were fleshed out really well. There are some exceptions in the Cour des Lions, but that is likely due to to the extreme secrecy these characters stick to.
However, the plot starts to drag in the second half, leading to a extremely fast-paced climax/info-dump in the last 50 or so pages of the book, which ends up asking many more questions than it answers. To me, it would have made much more sense to slow down the end and instead have more resolution. I felt like the supposed vampires at the centre of The Beautiful did not come through enough, which might have to do with the above mentioned secrecy. I am very excited for book two, hoping that it will clear up much of the mess of the end of the first, and that it will work better as a complete story.