Title: The Beautiful Ones (review copy)
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Genre/Themes: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism / Paranormal, Romantic
Blurb from Goodreads
From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a sweeping romance with a dash of magic.
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 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 that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins.
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.
I’ve been fortunate enough to read both ‘Mexican Gothic’ and ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’, other books by Moreno-Garcia, through NetGalley and adored them. Both got a five star rating from me and I actually bought physical copies for my bookshelves because I loved them so much. So when I was invited to read ‘The Beautiful Ones’, a re-issuing of an earlier work of hers, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.
And I’m so glad I did because once again I have fallen completely in love with a book by Moreno-Garcia. Her writing is simply beautiful making it entirely easy to wholly lose myself in the story as I was reading.
To readers expecting a book similar in tone to ‘Mexican Gothic’ or ‘Gods of Jade and Shadow’ let me say this is very different. The emphasis here is on romance within a fictionalised version of what I assumed to be regency era France with only the slightest dusting of the paranormal. So think more along the lines of historical romance focusing on high society, manners, decorum etc. But with a super messy love story which I was 100% living for.
I guess one could call this a book about a love triangle but that is really rather too reductionist because of the complexity of the characters involved; I was thoroughly enraptured by each of the main trio and how their lives intertwined.
I don’t want to venture into spoiler territory regarding the plot so what I will say is that two of the main trio are deliciously complicated characters whose motivations seem rather muddied and self-servicing at the expense of the third character. The third character is more of an innocent but an innocent with great depth and a fabulous character arc!
If you like untidy love stories then this is definitely for you. In love triangles there are always winners and losers, and I adored how this book used that trope to explore the role of women of high society when it comes to love and duty, and how regret can result in poisoning a heart to complete bitterness.
The novel has quite a slow pace to it which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was very much a book with decidedly careful rhythms that in my opinion enhanced the atmosphere of the world that these characters inhabited. The languid tempo served to echo the restraint the characters are put under due to societal expectations, while also acting as the perfect backdrop with which to show the juxtaposition of the heady and non-conforming nature of the passionate love of youth.
The paranormal aspect of this novel is really rather subtle so if you are expecting a full blown fantasy this isn’t it. Personally I thought it was just the right amount to make it feel believable to this fictionalised world, and I liked how the paranormal element served as a plot device to bring two seemingly very different personality-wise characters together.
One last thing, I absolutely adore how Moreno-Garcia seems to write a variety of genre styles. I adore when an author continually blurs the lines between genres and doesn’t just stick to one. In my opinion it makes for a more entertaining reader experience when reading multiple books by the same author as one can never be sure of the narrative journey where the author will take them. I certainly look forward to reading more from Moreno-Garcia in the future as she is 100% an auto-read author for me now.
Highly recommended to readers that enjoy slow burning and complicated love stories.
*An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review*
Publishing 27th April 2021, Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus)