I have always been fascinated by vampires. They are gruesome, bloody creatures and there is a romantic mystique about them. Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice has explored this dichotomy most entertainingly…especially the movie (yes, I do get that the cheese factor in it is immense…still, I loved every second). Stephanie Meyer reignited my love of these bitey creatures, though the movies were, UGH!!! I’ve read the True Blood, Jaz Parks, and Blood ties series with relish. P. C. Cast (a mother/daughter team) wrote the House of Night series and Rachel Mead wrote Vampire Academy, both are excellent vamp stories.
I’m not sure what it is that I find so scintillating. Is it that they bite the neck, a vulnerable place so close to the heart? Is it that they are always beautiful? Is it that they live forever (Nah…I DEFINITELY don’t want to do that the way the world is today!!!)? Vampires are worldly and they know a great deal about many things because they’ve lived so long. They have touched every corner of the earth and a bit of the exotic has become part of their essence. Whatever it is, I will never tire of reading about them and will always pass on what I have learned. The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh is the latest vampire-ish book in my arsenal.
New Orleans is a mystical city. The light and the dark are drawn there for reasons they, themselves, do not understand. Celine Rousseau is running form her life and the dreadful deeds she has done. At the Convent, she is taken in but they seem to sense something about her, something that is just a little off and they treat her with caution. During a fund-raising endeavor, she meets a fascinating woman who hires her to design a gown for a fancy party. This one decision draws her inexorably into a dark and dangerous group. La Cour des Lions is a place unlike any other. Magic seems to sparkle in the very air. Those who live there are strange and, maybe, not quite human? When tragedy strikes and a girl from the convent is murdered in the most horrible way possible, a pall is cast over everyone. She is the second girl to meet this fate in as many weeks. As she draws closer to the group and its inscrutable leader, Bastian, she makes herself a target for the evil lurks in the shadows. Celine has never backed down from a fight in her life and she’s not about to start now. A plan takes form in her mind and a third murder in her own cell at the convent spurs her to action but surviving and encounter with this creature may be more than even she can handle.
This tale will surprise and delight readers as Ahdeih moves you through the streets of New Orleans in the late 1800s. It is a masterfully told fantasy that twists and turns through the streets like a manic carnival parade. I look forward to reading the sequel, Damned.