I received an e-arc in exchange for my open an honest review.
I was excited about The Beautiful Ones as soon as I heard it was a book coming from Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Last year I read her gritty vampire novel, Certain Dark Things, and absolutely loved it! Needless to say, I was excited to get approved for the ARC and proceeded to dive right in.
First off, it is not what I expected at all coming off of Certain Dark Things. This book is set in a classy, high society environment where the goal is to be come a part of and stay a part of the beautiful ones. The story is told from three perspectives: the passionate yet honorable Hector; the naive, intelligent, and also passionate Nina; and the fiery, manipulative, and I think misunderstood Valérie. It is the grand season and it is Nina’s time to attend parties and dances in hopes of finding a husband. She is staying with her uncle who is married to Valérie in order to take part in the grand season. The first half of the novel reminded me a lot of Jane Austin’s satirical work around high society, relationships, and gender roles. There are many chapters about the proper way to conduct oneself, how to properly and respectfully court a lady, and other demonstrations of proper etiquette and manners. I really enjoyed this part because even though I find Austen’s work to be arduous in writing style, Moreno-Garcia achieves the same feeling with a more contemporary, fast-paced style.
The story starts off with Hector trying to rekindle a relationship with Valérie; unfortunately, she is already married to another man which complicates things. To complicate things even more, Hector comes up with a plan to court Nina in order to stay close to Valérie. Now I am sure you can assume how this situation plays out… all of the drama, all of the facades, all of the lies. This book is all about the messy relationships that are formed and the different motivations each character has.
I want to talk a little bit about Valérie because I really do think she is misunderstood. Valérie and Hector had a very strong relationship when they were younger and due to the circumstances, ended up marrying another man. How the story unfolds, as a reader, I initially saw Valérie as the antagonist. After finishing the book, all of the characters have a negative aspect which contributed to the messy drama. Valérie had her own set of motivations which drove her to take the actions she did; however, I do not think that makes her the enemy or the antagonist of the novel.
This novel also has an aspect of fantasy to it. Hector and Nina both have talents of telekinesis. Hector uses his developed talent in his career, putting on shows in the city. Nina, throughout her young life, was never supported in developing her talent. In fact, her special talents have been a source of discrimination and marginalization growing up and is hindering her in the grand season. After meeting Hector, she wants to pursue developing her talent and really takes ownership of herself and her identities. I appreciated this type of fantasy integration because it felt closer to low fantasy – fantastical elements in a ‘real world’ setting. Their talents were not the main focus of the book, but added a developmental layer for the characters within their communities. It also allowed for a deeper bond between Hector and Nina as the story progressed.
The Beautiful Ones was not what I was expecting. However, I found the story to be refreshing and dramatic. I would recommend you check this out when it releases later this year at the end of October.
Final Rating: 3.9/5
See more at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33574143