ARC Review: The Beautiful Ones – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Book cover: Black silhouette of a woman in a dress on a green-patterned background. She is facing towards the left of the book. There are silhouettes of butterflies in front of her face.In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society. Under the tutelage of the beautiful but cold Valérie Beaulieu, she hopes to find a suitable husband. However, the haphazard manifestations of Nina’s telekinetic powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

Yet dazzling telekinetic performer and outsider Hector Auvray sees Nina’s powers as a gift, and he teaches her how to hone and control them. As they spend more and more time together, Nina falls in love and believes she’s found the great romance that she’s always dreamed of, but Hector’s courtship of Nina is deceptive.

The Beautiful Ones is a sweeping fantasy of manners set in a world inspired by the Belle Époque.

I received an ARC of The Beautiful Ones from Netgalley. I requested it because I had heard a lot of praise for Moreno-Garcia’s previous writing.

The book has two minor characters that are hard of hearing.

The blurb is quite misleading. Telekinesis does not play a large role in the story at all, the main focus is definitely on the romance. I wish that more focus had been put on the telekinesis training, as I feel like we could have found out more about Nina’s growth through such scenes.

I also wasn’t satisfied with the explanation of the title. Why exactly are The Beautiful Ones called the Beautiful Ones. What is the meaning behind the name?

The romance plot did turn out to be quite interesting, even if it wasn’t exactly what I expected from the book. I ended up understanding Valérie’s position quite well, and felt that she was in a way the main character of the story. Valérie is a perfect example of an antiheroine – and it was fascinating to read how she felt about her situation. I was rooting for Nina to choose neither of the two love interests presented to her in the story. I won’t say what the ending was, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was better than the ending I thought she’d up having.

It was wonderful to see Nina stand up to sexism. I do feel like more sympathy could have been conveyed to Valérie at some point of the book, as it paints her very much as the evil villain, even though she had very little choice at that time. Nina had the privilege to choose her own husband and her family supported that, Valérie didn’t. I would have liked to see more discussion about this, as I felt that the ending was unjust to Valérie and did not highlight the fact that she faced that punishment and that she had had little other choice because of her gender.

Victorian flower language was a welcomed, small, decorative surprise. I love seeing how flowers are used to convey messages, however subtle they might be, and regardless of whether the recipient realises that there are messages hidden within the gift.

I found both the blurb and title misleading, which lead to me expecting something very different from this book. The Beautiful Ones is a pleasant read, however I didn’t find it that great. It’s neither good nor bad.

3 stars

Have you read The Beautiful Ones? Are you interested in reading it?


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