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The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh
Young adult

The Beautiful

by Renée Ahdieh

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Quick take

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

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Series

    First in series

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Murder



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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Beautiful.
The Beautiful

Hiver, 1872

Rue Royale
New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead.

I remember the moment I first heard someone say this. The old man meant to frighten me. He said there was a time when coffins sprang from the ground following a heavy rain, the dead flooding the city streets. He claimed to know of a Créole woman on Rue Dauphine who could commune with spirits from the afterlife.

I believe in magic. In a city rife with illusionists, it’s impossible to doubt its existence. But I didn’t believe this man. Be faithful, he warned. For the faithless are alone in death, blind and terrified.

I feigned shock at his words. In truth, I found him amusing. He was the sort to scare errant young souls with stories of a shadowy creature lurking in darkened alcoves. But I was also intrigued, for I possess an errant young soul of my own. From childhood, I hid it beneath pressed garments and polished words, but it persisted in plaguing me. It called to me like a Siren, driving me to dash all pretense against the rocks and surrender to my true nature.

It drove me to where I am now. But I am not ungrateful. For it brought to bear two of my deepest truths: I will always possess an errant young soul, no matter my age.

And I will always be the shadowy creature in darkened alcoves, waiting...

For you, my love. For you.

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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.

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Member ratings (685)

  • Amelia S.

    Northport, NY

    I LOVED the development of this love triangle! Throughout the story we got to see the complicated love story of Celine and Bastien. Then after her memories disappear, she’s falling for Micheal! Sweet!

  • Korrie M.

    Columbia, MO

    Anne Rice meets the Selection. So many supernatural books fall short these days, but this is everything I wanted & more. I can't wait for the next book in the series! Also I need to visit New Orleans.

  • Katarina C.

    Natick, MA

    This book does take its time, it allows the reader to sink into the world and get immersed into that first then allows the reader to peel back the layers of the characters to expose the supernatural

  • Ahlea W.

    Winona, MN

    Dark and beautiful! I love me a good historical fiction, and the supernatural beings made it even better. The "dark, handsome boy with troubled past" trope is overdone, but it still made me love him!

  • Rachel G.

    New Port Richey, FL

    Sinister danger lying beneath extravagance and beauty has become one of my favorite types of settings. I would love to read this again at French Quarter at WDW. (lol not the real one I go to Disney)

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