Release: October 24th 2017
Received: Net Galley
I received an advanced copy of the Beautiful Ones from Net Galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Beautiful Ones is a fantasy and romance novel, all in one, blending Pride and Prejudice and the Illusionist (the movie) into an intriguing character driven story. Add a dash of betrayal and revenge and you’ve got a good understanding of the feel of this novel. It is described as a fantasy novel, but in truth it is more of a romance novel, so be sure to be expecting that when you start reading.
I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting when I began this novel (perhaps a retelling of some sort), but it certainly isn’t what I got. While the tones reminded me of many different things, it still managed to stand alone and be its own element.
The Beautiful Ones is a bit lighter on the fantasy than I anticipated, and readers who are not fans of a slow buildup style story will probably find this too dawdling. I personally greatly enjoyed the time spent on character and plot development. Though I’ll admit some disappointment about the minimal use of telekinesis in the story – while brought up frequently, it skirts the line between fantasy and magic tricks. The ability comes into play once during a pivotal moment, but otherwise is relegated to background status.
The characters were minimal in number, but great in depth and development. All were very human, a fact that is especially evident whenever one of them would make a mistake. While I didn’t agree with all the decisions the characters made, it was hard not to sympathize with their reasoning (with the exception of Valerie that is. No sympathy for her). Though Hector blatantly using Nina was a bit tough to swallow – especially when you see just how innocent Nina really is (I was worried that this would permanently alter her outlook, but thankfully she’s stronger than that).
I quickly grew to love despising Valerie, while cheering for Hector to get his life back on track (ideally with Nina). She was the ideal villain for the novel – being the antithesis to Nina in every way while still actively trying to stand in Hector’s way (her inability to share a person with any other being shows how truly conceited she is). I know I should probably have felt compassion for Valerie, being that her predicament is truly just commentary on women in the 19th century (where they were not allowed to make choices for themselves) but her bitter air and complete unwillingness to make changes that would better her life left a bad taste in my mouth. Add in the fact that she was more than willing to set Nina to the same fate and it becomes very difficult to overlook.
Hector is a very complicated character, and while he invariably makes choices the reader won’t agree with, I still found myself hoping he’d find his way. Having his heart utterly broken when he was young turned him into a paradoxical man. On the one hand he was still a hopeless romantic, believing that Valerie would run away with him the moment she had the chance. The other side of him is jaded, not seeing much of a point in trying to find new friends or new love. Watching his character grow and learn was truly a beautiful (if slightly slow) sight to see, and I’m glad it was included (as opposed to a sudden transition).
While I hadn’t been intending on delving into a romance novel this week, I find myself shocked to admit that I did greatly enjoy it. I still wish it had been described more accurately, but it is what it is. It was a nice change of pace, all things considered, and I’m glad I took the time to read it.