Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Beautiful Ones

The Beautiful  Ones
  The Beautiful Ones
Publication Information:  TOR Trade. 2021. 304 pages.
ISBN:  1250785561 / 978-1250785565

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Hector was like a castaway who had washed up on a room of velvet curtains and marble floors."

Favorite Quote:  "All we ultimately have to do is believe. We focus our mind on one single point, one single purpose, and we push. We grasp. We manipulate wood and glass and iron. However, the greatest trick is the belief. Belief is what makes it read."

Who are the beautiful ones of Loisail? They are the notable, wealthy elite. "Nothing matters more than money to us, the Beautiful Ones who walk down these city streets in pristine gloves and silk-lined garments. You can give yourself the luxury of love because you are not one of us. That is why you are my friend: because despite everything, at heart you remain an innocent."

Amongst the beautiful ones are two relative outsiders. Antonina "Nina" Beaulieu has been sent to her cousin's house for the Grand Season; she comes with her family's hopes that she will make good match. Hector Auvury is telekinetic who has traveled the world as a performer but who has returned to Loisail in the hopes of reconnecting with his former fiancé Valérie Beaulieu. Valérie Beaulieu, as the name might suggest, is married to Nina's cousin. As a way of approach, Hector decides to get to Valérie by courting Nina instead.

So begins this triangle. It weaves through the drawing rooms, walks, and balls that comprise the Grand Season. Hector and Nina find more in common than they might have imagined. Hector still has to reckon with Valérie's betrayal when they were both young. Nina knows nothing of this past. Valérie bears her own regrets about trading love for wealth and security. "We say a great many things when we are young. Eventually, we grow wiser." With those regrets come anger and grudges.

The telekinetic skills add a mystery and fantasy to the story. The triangle includes twists that surprise. The era of the Grand Season and the wealthy adds a Victorian touch with "proper" behavior, societal censure, and even duels. The story is slow to begin but builds to a dramatic, unexpected conclusion. 

Through the book, the sweet, somewhat innocent country-cousin-come-to-the-city Nina evolves and finds her own strength. I find myself rooting for her in life and in love. Hector is the hero from the wrong side of the tracks trying to make good. Although his actions are not all likable, overall, he too is a character to root for.

What I find most fascinating of all is the dramatic difference between this book and the first I read by the author. Gods of Jade and Shadow is based in mythology, with gods and goddesses and the characters traveling through time and space. This one has its magical element but is a story very much of this earth and the have and the have nots. The villain in this one is very much human. That being said, both books are about young, independent female protagonists - completely different from each other yet both on a journey of discovering and honoring their own strengths. For that, both stories work. I look forward to what Silvia Morena-Garcia writes next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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