Review: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Fantasy of Manners, Romance

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books on October 24, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

  

From glittering ballrooms to decaying family estates, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s THE BEAUTIFUL ONES showcases the grandeur of society inspired by the Belle Époque…and the grit that’s carefully concealed beneath it.

When young Antonina Beaulieu comes out in society, she’s thrust from the socially relaxed country town where she grew up and into the blinding lights of Loisail. Guided by her aunt, the coldly perfect Valérie Beaulieu, Antonina struggles to conform to the social niceties required to make a good impression; her clumsiness, brazen attitude, and completely disregard for etiquette quickly mark her as a borderline unmarriageable miss. Add in her unsettling tendency to move things telekentically when she’s upset, and Nina has her fair share of hurdles to overcome before she can make a match of it. Until the mysterious, accomplished telekenetic performer Hector Auvray knocks on the door of her Aunt’s home…

Nina is quickly captivated by Hector`s attention, his plain-speaking, and his good looks. But Hector is pursuing Nina for all the wrong reasons, and it`s not long before that comes to light. Moreno-Garcia captures perfectly Nina`s feelings of betrayal, anger, and shame in the wake of her heartbreak, and I really appreciated the time she gave Nina to mourn the loss of Hector`s courtship and accept the reality of her circumstances. THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is a romance, so it`s not exactly surprising how the triangle between Nina, Hector, and Valérie ultimately plays out, but I really appreciated the care that Moreno-Garcia took in getting there. 

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES stands apart from other fantasy of manners and romance novels thanks to Moreno-Garcia’s writing style, a lyrical yet precise way with words that’s typically reserved for “literary fiction.” A genre chameleon, Moreno-Garcia proves that she has the talent to pull off any kind of story with a style that’s uniquely her own. Some fans of CERTAIN DARK THINGS may not find what they’re looking for (namely, thrills and chills) in THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, but personally I loved reading Moreno-Garcia’s description of an entirely different world.

More than anything though, I found myself captivated by the characters and their multidimensional personalities. Nina, with her fresh optimism, kindness, and unbearable naivete; Hector, with his genuine heartbreak and fondness for Nina coupled with his scheming, manipulative behaviour; and Valérie, with her wild heart trapped by the conventions of the upper-class lifestyle she desperately clings to. Not all of the characters in THE BEAUTIFUL ONES are likable, but they’re all convincing and well-drawn. Valérie, in particular, impressed me — she’s selfish, cruel, and conniving, but her motivations are understandable and convincing. Moreno-Garcia makes it clear that Valérie wasn’t born this way: she’s been hardened by the sacrifices she’s made to conform to the expectations of a patriarchal society and the strict boundaries of class.

While I enjoyed the sprinkling of magic in THE BEAUTIFUL ONES, I admit that I craved more detail about the telekinetic powers that Nina and Hector both possess. We hear a lot about Hector`s unrivaled skill with his abilities, and although he does perform a few times on page, I confess that I wanted to know the true extent of his abilities. I’m sure he’s capable of much more than what he displays in his acts. That said, I was quite pleased with the way Nina`s developing control over her own gift plays into the climax of the story. Pretty badass!

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is at once charming and thought-provoking, full of style, wit, and social commentary. With her trademark skill and style, Silvia Moreno-Garcia proves that she has staying power in any genre she chooses.

Do you have a soft spot for certain unlikable characters? Have you read anything by Silvia Moreno-Garcia yet? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Well, this sounds gorgeous! How have I not even heard of it, Danya? I desperately need to get myself a copy of this. I was a little hesitant at the mention of the triangle, but if it’s done well and you’re praising the writing, then I need it. I love that it’s a fantasy romance too. I’ll check the library for it!

  • At some point I will read this, although I do need to remind myself that this is not Certain Dark Things! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, though!

  • I haven’t read anything by this author, but I do think it’s really cool (and rare) when authors can write well across genres!

  • Karen

    I skimmed over this because I wan to read it. I have another of her books to read first though.

    For What It’s Worth

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    yeah, this was definitely more romance, less details on magic. But it was enjoyable. Glad you liked it!

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    I like it when authors change paths and perspectives from novel to novel: first it better showcases their skills, and then it offers us readers an ever-intriguing story to read. In other words, a win-win situation 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Greg Hill

    Ooh telekinetics and Belle Epoque society- nice combo. I’d like to read more TK stuff. And this sounds so different from Dark Things- clearly a very versatile author . I remember wanting to read that. And Valerie here souns very interesting.

    Great review Danya!!!

  • Great review, Danya! I had a good time with this book, despite not being something I would normally pick up. I agree, I wish there had been more magic…that aspect seemed almost incidental, like it could have been removed altogether and the story would have been largely unaffected.

  • Bookworm Brandee

    This is a book I’ve been curious about but on the fence about giving it a chance. I’ll certainly be picking it up from my library now! The characters sound so very well drawn and the historical setting, where Antonina chafes against societal expectations…yeah, I love that in historicals. Thanks for providing the go-ahead I needed to read this, Danya!

  • This is a book I’ve had on my radar a little while and although it’s priced way too high for me to by I am intrigued. I have to say Certain Dark Things appeals to me a little more but this book also sounds really good. I do wish there would be a bit more exploration of the TK in it but it still sounds good enough without it.

  • You’ve been killing it with thee historical fantasies this year! This sounds wonderful and the especially good writing is something I really appreciate.

  • I’ve heard a lot about this. It sounds like the author did a great job with Nina’s relationships and emotions, and these characters do sound complex and flawed, the kind of characters who are unlikeable but all the more realistic for it. I do like unlikeable characters sometimes! But you probably already know that from my latest review lol. I think it’s always a good sign when an author can make you like or understand or relate to an unlikeable character!

  • HELLO AFTER A LONG TIME DANYA!! *waves like mad* Life got busy! I’m sorry I haven’t stopped by for so long!

    Lovely review! I’m going to be reading the author’s Certain Dark Things soon! I’ve heard so many good things about her writing and adding this to my TBR too!

  • Lynn Williams

    I simply had a good time with this book. It wasn’t at all what I expected to read after Certain Dark Things and I like that the author went down a different track. The magic was definitely more an ‘add on’ than anything else but even so I did enjoy this.
    Lynn 😀

  • Between the blurb, your four stars and your description of the writing style this one is going on my TBR. Even though I’ll probably want to know so much more because I like some good in depth world building and explanations, I need to know if I’ll love this one too!

    • P.S. I really think I need a shelf on Goodreads called “Danya-convinced-me”. It would be well populated!