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. 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.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Beautiful Ones!
I was sent a NetGalley widget for The Beautiful Ones and frankly, I had to think about accepting it. I loved Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic last year, so my gut instinct was to click first and ask questions later, but I’m learning to fight such bookish gut instincts, to do some groundwork first, to prevent myself from getting burned. And I found the author saying that if you only know her from Mexican Gothic, beware because The Beautiful Ones is a completely different story, a whole other genre. In the end my curiosity still got the better of me, and I decided to take the plunge. My rating gave it away: I’m really happy that I clicked on that widget!
From the very first line, The Beautiful Ones had me hook, line and sinker. I loved Nina, the female protagonist. The Beautiful Ones is a novel of manners first and foremost, and Nina is the lady who’s just a tad unladylike and not at all dainty enough. The one who speaks her mind instead of smiling politely and batting her eyelashes at gentlemen. The one who questions what might be the sense of taking a carriage to a park to walk in said park, instead of just walking to the park in the first place.
Nina is staying with her cousin and his wife Valérie, her introduction to Loisail’s high society, the so-called Beautiful Ones. When she meets Henry she’s immediately attracted to him but he is actually still smitten with Valérie, with whom he shares a past Nina knows nothing about. What ensues is a beautiful story about love and revenge, innocence and bitterness, that winds its way to highly suspenseful finale.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call The Beautiful Ones fantasy, not at all, but it does have a fantasy element in the form of the telekinesis both Nina and Hector are skilled at, the former having been called a witch because of it, the latter having made a profession out of it. One might think a novel of manners and fantasy hardly fit together, but somehow in this here novel they come together wonderfully without ever clashing in the slightest. The Beautiful Ones offers the comfort of a classic story while simultaneously presenting its reader with something brand new.
The Beautiful Ones is a character-driven slow-burner. I was rapidly sucked into the story and although this is not a genre I frequent, I never felt bored and I never found my mind wandering. The Beautiful Ones grabbed my attention and kept it throughout, and I’m sure that was thanks to Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s excellent writing and even more thanks to the characters: Nina, whom I was rooting for from the start, and Valérie whom I hated with a vengeance. It’s been quite a while since I hated a character as much as I hated her, on numerous occasions I could have happily strangled her with her own bloody pearls!
I had an absolutely fantastic time with The Beautiful Ones and I would readily recommend it to readers who enjoy novels of manners and/or romance with a bit of magic.
The Beautiful Ones is out today in all formats!
Huge thanks to Ella Patel and Jo Fletcher Books for the widget! All opinions are still my own.