Tuesday 1 June 2021

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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.

After absolutely loving Gods of Jade and Shadow and Mexican Gothic, of course I was interested in checking out Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest release. And with such a gorgeous cover, I couldn't wait to check it out.

One thing that I love about this very talented author is how she writes beautiful stories in a variety of genres. Picking up one of her books is always a surprise because you don't know what wonders will be within these pages.

Nina is staying at her cousin's house in the city to make her debut during the Grand Season. But she doesn't fit in with the Beautiful Ones and would rather be doing anything else. When she meets the entertainer Hector, she's instantly smitten. But Hector's seemingly mutual interest in her is a bit about their shared telekinesis, and even more about someone else...

Well, that was quite a pleasant, slow burn historical romance with a touch of the paranormal and a lot of unconventional, unexpected surprises.

The strange thing about this book is that during the first 100 pages, I kept wondering why I was still reading a story featuring two truly awful people. But I just couldn't put it down! It wasn't until a while later that I realised why I was still on board with this story: Nina.

Nina is one of the three shared POVs in this very well-written and lush book. She's innocent and wondrous, so full of life and finds excitement in the simple things others around her disregard. Her enthusiasm for all living things is contagious and her attitude so refreshing. Every time she tells her side of the story, it's a total joy.

The other two, though. My gosh, they were a totally different story. Valérie is an awful, cold woman with only cruelty and manipulation in mind. I did NOT like this character at all. As for Hector, OMG, I really wanted to like him from the beginning but his intentions were so selfish, that I spent most of my reading time angry with him. Since I loved Nina so much and these two were not nice to her, I initially found it really hard to warm to either one.

Except, my feelings towards Hector changed somewhere along the way. The more I read, the more I somehow found my opinion about him changing. Until I couldn't help but like him.

Yeah, the characterisation in this book is awesome.

Another thing I particularly liked about this book is how it proves that when a society's main concern is manners, appearances and controlling women's lives with oppressing rules, dire complications of the heart are sure to arise.

The Beautiful Ones is a fantastic, addictive tale that slowly creeps into your head, and before you know what's happening, you find yourself halfway through and wondering how that happened. I loved the vivid sense of location and time, the soft press of the paranormal, and how well each of these characters inhabit this historical world of pompous, arrogant people flaunting their homes and wealth, instead of worrying about what really matters.

I really enjoyed this romantic adventure full of complicated love, secrets, betrayal and how the past shapes people's futures.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy.

The Beautiful Ones, April 2021, ISBN 9781529416114, Jo Fletcher Books

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