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—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.
When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.
But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina — and himself — that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.
Huge thank you to Ella Patel & Jo Fletcher Books for the review copy! I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I can’t stress enough how much I love Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s writing! She is one of the few authors who keeps me gripped no matter the genre, and even manages to get me out of my comfort zone every once in a while. The Beautiful Ones is an intoxicating story of manners, first love and first heartbreak, but also of how appearances can be deceiving, and the personality someone shows to the masses may not also be who they truly are inside.
Antonina (Nina) Beaulieu has arrived in Loisail to stay in the house of her Cousin and his wife Valérie to be inducted into society and to, hopefully, find a husband. There she meets Hector Auvery and as young ladies are prone to do, falls head over heels in love. Hector is initially put off by Nina’s lack of social graces, but when he learns her name, he realises that she may just be useful to him. Will Nina get her fairy tale ending, or will Hector play her for the naive girl she is, only time and a season in the city will tell.
The Beautiful Ones is told from three POV’s; first and by far the main pov is Nina, she is headstrong, if not a little naive, and simply wants to be whisked away on a whirlwind romance like in her books. She never thinks to act like a proper lady, always failing with her social graces, much to the chagrin of Valerie who is meant to be introducing her to civilised society. Her ability with Telekenesis has always made her seem strange to others, especially because she insists on doing it in public, something that is not proper for a young lady, but Nina in all her naivete does not see why she should be treated different than any man. Nina was by far my favourite character, and when her heart broke, mine broke right alongside it. I loved seeing her grow as a character throughout the story, she goes from wanting a whirlwind romance to simply wanting to be loved. But even that is not easy, and she show’s true strength of character in making her decision.
Hector was a character I initially disliked, his almost obsession with a past lover, and his treatment of Nina in the first half of the book had me swearing at him on more than one occasion. He, unlike Nina, knows the reality of the world, that not everybody can marry for love, but that doesn’t stop him from using her to his advantage, knowing deep down that she was developing feelings for him. The benefit of us having his pov is that we know that he likes Nina a lot longer before the idiot knows it himself, and by then it might be too late. His character changes in the second half of the book, he atones for his actions, and realises that his past love was not the person he thought she was. Now there is only one person he can imagine sharing his life with, but he hurt her beyond repair.
Valérie was a character I never warmed too. Constantly angry that she had to marry for money and not love, instead of trying to help to make sure that doesn’t happen to Nina, Valérie does everything within her power to hurt her. She is the queen of polished refinery, the epitome of what a lady should be, and she takes every advantage to use her sharp tongue to tell Nina how she is failing to live up to her standards. If Hector made me angry, then Valérie had me frothing at the mouth. I will admit to feeling extremely happy about her ending, and feel it was well deserved. The benefit of having all three POV’s is that we as the reader are generally always a step ahead of the characters, we can see the drama coming, we get to feel their tension, their emotions as certain things come to light, and this made for an engrossing and gripping read. She also graces us with a brilliant cast of side characters who all make an impact no matter how little page time they get.
If I got to have an author write my life I would pick Silvia Moreno-Garcia, her writing style is flawless and never fails to completely envelop me, and ensure I stay glued to the pages. Her descriptions of the places and outfits in The Beautiful Ones had me longing to visit her alternative version of post-industrial France. She also brings a fantastical element to the book with both Hector and Nina being Telekinetic, though their abilities do play a part in the story The Beautiful Ones is, first and foremost, a romance, but I did enjoy the parts of the book where their abilities were used. Nina, having no formal training lets her emotions rule her power, something that has caused issues in the past. On the flip side we have Hector who is a professional, and I found myself wishing I could be there to see all his tricks in real life.
The romance in this book was incredibly well written, there is angst, drama and one of the best love triangles I’ve had the pleasure of reading. One thing I loved the most was seeing Hector unwittingly fall for Nina slowly but surely. Hector’s feelings creep up on him and I did have a little smirk on my face when the realisation hit him. Nina on the other hand loves freely and without question, there was no denying that she fell head over heels for Hector from their first meeting, but after his betrayal she becomes wary of him, and I found myself gripped to the pages needing to know if he would ever win her back or if their romance was never meant to be.
I don’t think there was anything about this book I didn’t love. Silvia Moreno-Garcia made me fall in love with her writing in Gods of Jade and Shadow and cemented herself as one of my favourite authors with Mexican Gothic, something which The Beautiful Ones adds too. I found myself utterly head over heels for these characters, the world they inherit as well as Moreno-Garcia’s luscious prose and I cannot wait to get my hands on more of her works. An easy 5 out of 5 and a book that will, without a doubt, make my favourite of the year.