The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh is the first in a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight. Released on October 8, 2019, The Beautiful became an instant New York Times and Indie Bestseller – a testament to master storyteller Renée Ahdieh’s newest sultry romance and decadent, thrilling mystery, which is sure to enrapture fans of the genre, new and old.
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.
In her newest novel, Renée Ahdieh once again weaves a decadent, luscious world, filled to the brim with unforgettable characters and a vivid story that is sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
“She was no lamb. She was a lion.” ―
Celine Rousseau and Sébastien Saint Germain are characters who imprint themselves on a reader’s memory forever, leaving a lasting impression with their sharp wit and unrelenting personalities, among other endearing qualities. Celine Rousseau was a dressmaker in Paris until a terrible event forced her to flee her life there, and start a new one in the dazzling city of New Orleans. Sébastien Saint Germain is the swoon-worthy, mysterious leader of a group of people known as La Cour de Lions. When Celine becomes caught up in a gruesome murder mystery, the two collide – pitting Celine’s reckless, headstrong, and confident personality against Sébastien’s equally self-assured, devious, and suave one. And while Sébastien’s darkly endearing character is sure to have readers swooning and begging for more, it is Celine’s powerful personality that will leave the most potent impression upon the readers mind.
While the characters may be mesmerizing, The Beautiful also gives readers a story that is nail-biting, swoon-worthy, and satisfying, all in one fell-swoop. The backdrop of a mysterious murder-spree, linked to both Celine’s convent and Sébastien’s Cour des Lions, made for a perfect plot device, which sent both protagonist spiraling downwards on a seemingly-inevitable collision course with destiny. And yet, nothing felt overly cheesy or out of place, because Ahdieh took the time to develop the story wholly, building the story around the world and characters seamlessly. As both the romance and intrigue build, readers will be unable to put this one down, and will inevitable find themselves careening towards the conclusion with baited breath.
“In only a few short weeks, Celine had learned to appreciate how the city seemed to come alive the moment the sun dipped below the horizon. Not a normal kind of alive, like sunshine and laughter. But a sinister, sensual kind of alive. A warm caress and a cool whisper.”―
Beyond Ahdieh’s rich character development and wickedly delightful story, The Beautiful also launches the reader into an incredibly ornate, lush New Orleans. The atmosphere within the world that Ahdieh builds through the story is undeniably beautiful, the descriptions vivid and detailed – honestly, 19th century New Orleans is the perfect setting for a dark, seductive vampire story. Readers will get the dark magic aura of the city, combined with the way the city is intrinsically alive and thriving, even in the face of a mysterious and dark threat. Truly, there’s a darkly poetic tone to Ahdieh’s writing that perfectly reflects the setting of The Beautiful, and creates the most haunting seductive and mysterious atmosphere for readers to savour as they explore Celine and Sébastien’s story.
Overall, Ahdieh’s The Beautiful does a wonderful job bringing seductive supernatural creatures back to the forefront of Young Adult Fantasy. With enchanting writing, mesmerizing characters, and a setting as deliciously wicked as the creatures that haunt it, readers are sure to fall head-over-heels in love with The Beautiful – and with the tale far from done, they’ll also be left desperately wanting more.