Happy book birthday to The Damned by Renée Ahdieh! After being lucky enough to get to review an ARC of the first book in the series, The Beautiful, last year, I got to read this one early again. However, it felt a bit like the parts that I was on the fence about in The Beautiful were much stronger in this second book, which made it drag on a little for my taste.
Many thanks to Kate Keehan, Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for this honest review!
RELEASE DATE: 07/07/20
STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.
Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.
Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart. (from Goodreads)
OPINIONS: While this sequel isn’t set immediately after the end of the first book, it does very strongly knit onto the end of it. If it has been a while since you read The Beautiful, I recommend you reread it before starting The Damned, as I ended up rather confused at the start, having forgotten some of the details of the fast-paced ending. While much of The Beautiful was slow-to medium paced over the course of the story, which I really enjoyed, The Damned kept up the pace of the last part of it, and was consistently fast paced. This will work very well for many readers, but was not ideal for me personally. I preferred getting immersed in the world of the vampires of New Orleans, their society and customs, and getting to know the characters.
To me, it felt like The Damned was trying to do too much in too short a time frame. It solved a number of overarching mysteries, introduced many new ones, but did not leave much space for character and relationship growth through its focus on action and plot. Especially given that this is Renée Ahdieh’s first longer series, I believe that saving some of what happened in The Damned for the next volume would have helped with these issues.
Ultimately, I felt disconnected from the characters due to the pacing. I wanted to know what happened, but I didn’t truly care, not like I did during The Beautiful. I hope that will change again in the next book, as for me that is one of the most crucial elements of a novel. But as I said, this is all due to my personal tastes, and I do believe that many people will love and enjoy The Damned just as much as they did The Beautiful.