Author: Renée Ahdieh
Narrator: Lauren Ezzo
Audiobook Length: 13 hours 9 minutes
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 Le Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sèbastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of Le Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sèbastien’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.
The Beautiful series first caught my eye due to the intriguing covers and the interesting take on a murder mystery vampire story. The story takes place in 1872 and follows 17 years old Celine Rousseau from France, who has a secret she needs to keep hidden. She moves to New Orleans and becomes a dressmaker while living at a convent. She catches the attention of a woman named Odette who wants Celine to make a garment for her. This leads Celine to the city’s underworld known as La Cour de Lions ran by Sebastian St. Germain. When it is discovered that a murderer on the loose, things become more complicated for Celine.
The novel not only follows Celine, but also includes the POV of the murderer. This part is where I really became intrigued by the mystery. It was a very interesting take on author’s part as it entices the reader to figure out the killer in addition to the clues throughout. I did want a little more build-up as it was a lot of mystery followed by the reveal. My preference would have been a buildup where the tension builds similar to a roller coaster compared to a sudden spike in the climax.
There is a love triangle that begins to form in this story, so it will be interesting to see how this triangle progresses in the next novel. Unlike some series, this one followed some other series where it is clear from the start who the main character will choose. This lowers the stakes a lot and is one of the reasons I am not a fan of love triangles. Michael was still an overall interesting character, though, so even though I wasn’t invested in him and Celine, I did enjoy him as an individual.
Overall, this was an interesting start to the series, but nothing extremely special. I will still read the sequel as I want to see what happens next, but I still want more from the series as a whole. Celine was an interesting character as she was a mix of mature and immature, which fit her character; however, she was a little back and forth about her decisions, which tended to be frustrating. As most of the other characters were drawn to her, I needed more to understand why instead of she was ‘different” than other girls. There was a lot of potential there for this element, so I hope that the sequel helps answer these questions.