Audiobook Review: The Beautiful

The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

RBdigital audiobook review by Jeannette

Don’t expect this book to be your typical paranormal romance. This is a lavish, rich and atmospheric gothic mystery, heavy on description, outfits and decor and fittingly set in New Orleans. Ahdieh’s writing style is elegant, unusual and imaginative which allows her to build a great foundation for the plots characters. Throughout the book there is slow-moving tension, creating a story that possess an almost dreamlike quality.

It is 1872 and Celine Rousseau, a dressmaker from Paris with a secretive past, has just arrived in New Orleans where she will stay in a convent until she can find a suitable husband. When Celine agrees to make a dress for a mysterious woman, she is unwittingly pulled into the mysterious world of the ‘La Cour des Lions’ and Celine isn’t sure if it’s members are entirely human.

Promptly New Orleans finds itself in the grips of terror as an apparent serial killer is on the loose and bodies, drained of blood, begin to turn up. Celine believes that these gruesome murders are linked to the ‘LA Cour des Lions’, an underground society made up of those with ‘special abilities.’ Its leader is the enigmatic Sebastien Saint Germain.
Soon Celine and her new friend Pippa are pulled into the dangerous world of murder and she is sure that the killer has sets ‘its’ sights on her. She finds herself dealing with age-old feuds and it is hard to tell who is friend and who is foe, who is human and who is something else altogether.

Celine is reckless, living life on the edge wishing to experience everything it has to offer. She is also extremely stubborn and impressively confident, considering that she lives in the 19th century. She knows who she wants to be and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it.

I really like how the author weaves the themes of feminism and racism into this story, and that she portrays Celine as a woman that strikes out against cultural oppression. There are quite a few lines and phrases in French, Spanish and Italian. It makes for an extremely multi-faceted and engaging experience and required, at least for me, the assistance of Google for translation purposes. Most definitely a story to get lost in, although I found it a bit cliché that every character in this story is absolutely gorgeous.

“And the infinite captivates us because it allows us to believe all things are possible. That true love can last beyond time.” Renée Ahdieh, The Beautiful