Summary (from the publisher):
In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.
When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
It isn’t Halloween season without having read at least one book with a demon or two, right?
I’m usually not one for paranormal stories, but The Beautiful received so much hype from a few of my book blogger friends at Book Expo. I really loved Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn back in 2015 (unfortunately I wasn’t as much of a fan of the sequel), so I was really excited to jump back into her writing. In short, The Beautiful follows Celine’s entrance into 1870s New Orleans society after fleeing from her life as a dressmaker in Paris. However, life doesn’t settle down for Celine in her new home. A string of gruesome murders leaves Celine and the city on edge, including its underworld led by the Court of Lions. If there’s anyone who Celine shouldn’t trust, it’s the Court of Lions’ darling, Sébastien.
Outside of my friends’ excitement, The Beautiful caught my interest for two reasons: its setting and Celine’s interest in fashion! The book is set in 1870s New Orleans, which was really unique when it comes to my reading experiences. I’ve only read a handful of books in this setting, let alone the time frame (let’s be honest, the only one I can really think of right now is Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy). From exploring Celine and her friend Pippa’s time at the dreary convent to the extravagant nightlife of the Crescent City’s elite, Renée Ahdieh really delivered on an atmospheric setting. Being the (book) foodie that I am, I loved any scene that involved food and sent Celine thinking back to her days in Paris.