Published: April 27th, 2021
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Romantic Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Happy Publication Day to this beautiful book!
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a sweeping romance rich with love and betrayal, with more than a dash of magic.
‘One of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time’ MJ Rose, New York Times bestselling author of the Reincarnationalist series
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip – malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.
But Nina’s life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina’s talent blossoms – as does her love for the great man.
But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina – and himself – that threatens their courtship.
The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.
“Nothing matters more than money to us, the Beautiful Ones who walk down these city streets in pristine gloves and silk-lined garments. You can give yourself the luxury of love because you are not one of us.”
The Beautiful Ones is a story of love, betrayal, society and duty. A love story that is familiar to us all: girl meets boy, girl falls in love, boy is in love with someone else, that someone else doesn’t deserve his love, all set in an Austen-esque era against a backdrop of high society inhabited by the Beautiful Ones, Losail’s elite socialites and the group that everyone wants to be part of.
I was instantly captured by the book’s beautiful cover and intriguing synopsis, as well as rave reviews of the author’s back catalogue. It lives up to the expectation of beauty; from the glorious cover to the luxurious prose and evocative imagery. The lush, poetic prose washed over me as I read, immersing me in the opulent world of Losail’s high society. It is a world of plenty, where reputation is everything and there are rules they are expected to abide by, where scandals are feared and brandished as weapons in their power games.
But while I was captured by its beauty, it did feel like there was something missing that prevented me from falling in love with this book. I felt like I was a little mis-sold on the magical elements of this story. It didn’t feel like there was really any fantasy element and while it is the thing that draws Hector and Nina to one another, it seemed like it had no real impact on the story. I was disappointed as I was looking forward to this part of the book, but think it would have been better to either remove it, or focus on it more.
My favourite character was Nina – a sweet, innocent, naive and romantic young girl. She doesn’t accept the boundaries and expectations of society, instead pushing back and being determined to be herself. I loved this about her and it made me root for her from the start. Hector is the first person she has met who not only accepts her for who she is, but also sees her powers as something wonderful to be nurtured. So it is hardly a surprise when she falls head over heels in love with him. I found Hector to be a nuanced character that I had mixed feelings for. But I did like his arc over the course of the book and enjoyed him and Nina together, how she helped him want to be a better person, and the things they taught each other.
Valerie is the villain of the story. Though outwardly she is described as the most beautiful creature anyone has ever seen, it is quickly apparent that darkness lurks beneath her beauty. Rotten, vicious and vile, she will stop at nothing to get what she wants and takes pleasure in hurting those in her way. She was brilliantly written, as were the rest of this eclectic cast of characters that inhabited Losail.
An issue at the heart of this book is how the women have no real agency, their families expecting them to acquiesce to their wishes even at the cost of their own happiness. The author explores this through our two main female characters, giving them very different experiences. Valerie was forced to marry someone she didn’t like out of duty to her family, while Nina is given the freedom to choose who she would like to marry. This makes an impact of how they see the world, giving them diverging views on life and shaping their overall character. I found this both fascinating and heart-rending. It was impossible not to feel sad for Valerie at the path she’d been forced to take and the unhappiness it had brought her, though I still feel her villainy was a choice she made.
Entertaining and dramatic, this is a beautifully written love story that I would recommend if you enjoy historical or romantic fiction. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music and magic, won a Copper Cylinder Award. Gods of Jade and Shadow was the 2020 American Library Association Reading List winner in the Fantasy category and won the 2020 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Mexican Gothic won a Pacific Northwest Book Award and made many best of the year lists.
She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in Shadows (World Fantasy Award winner, published in the USA as Cthulhu’s Daughters), and others. Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press. She co-edited the horror magazine The Dark with Sean Wallace from 2017 to 2020. She’s a columnist for The Washington Post and reviews books for NPR.
She has an MA in Science and Technology Studies from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis can be read online and is titled “Magna Mater: Women and Eugenic Thought in the Work of H.P. Lovecraft.”
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Thank you to Jo Fletcher Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx