Dig into the first of this series. It's a decadent mix of blood, lust, and lore in 19th-century New Orleans. Yum.
Good to know
First in series
Why I love it
A new book by Renée Ahdieh is always a cause for celebration, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on her most recent novel, The Beautiful. Her take on late 19th-century New Orleans is sumptuous, and the sights, sounds, and smells of the city leap off the page and drag you into a story packed with romance, magic, and murder.
The Beautiful opens as intrepid young dressmaker—or modiste—Celine Rousseau arrives in New Orleans, trading a dark past in Paris for a sedate life in the Ursuline convent. Only, this peaceful life is immediately turned upside down when she witnesses the grisly murder of a young woman—a crime that appears to implicate the dazzling Court of the Lions and dangerously handsome Sebastien Saint Germain. Celine is a fearless and brilliant young woman, and she soon finds herself embroiled in a vampiric murder inquiry and with the leaders of a criminal underworld.
I'm a sucker for stories that bring the magical parts of a city to life, populating liminal places with vampires and illusionists, so I sank deep into Ahdieh’s descriptions of vibrant, multicultural New Orleans. I’m also a sucker for stories about women with fierce hearts, brilliant minds, and whalebone corsets—so The Beautiful was pretty much a dream come true. This is the book for you if you're looking for an autumnal escape into mystery and romance from a master storyteller.
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.