Mini reviews: The Beautiful, Gravemaidens

Hi friends! I’m back today with some mini reviews of ya fantasy books I’ve read recently. If I was anticipating both of them, I unfortunately felt a little let down by them. Let’s get to it! Also I don’t know how to do mini reviews, please excuse me, aerm.

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

The Beautiful, Renee Ahdiehgoodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Renee Ahdieh’s duology, The Wrath and the Dawn, is one of my favorites of all times, so naturally I was eagerly anticipating getting back into the author’s magical writing and imagination. Unfortunately, if The Beautiful was entertaining as a whole, it didn’t quite held my attention the way I wished it to.

The Beautiful had a lot of potential: bringing back vampires, in New Orleans and with Renee Ahdieh’s stunning prose. Yet, I felt like all of the promises of the synopsis weren’t quite met, for me. Let’s start on the positives though: the writing is as beautiful as ever, the decors lush and beautifully written and, as I read, I felt transported by this New Orleans the author created. The cast of characters the author create is quite interesting, too and is carried by a complex main character struggling with getting over her past, with a deep desire to understand the supernatural events occuring.

My problem with The Beautiful was first with the pacing, that felt a little off and slow: the real, thrilling action takes quite a while to kickstart and, somehow, made the first half of the book feel… long. Once it did, I was carried away with the story and curious to see what would happen, but I wish it didn’t take that long to start. My second issue was with the characters: if I found them interesting, from Celine’s deep desire for power to the detective, to Bastien’s obvious charming, tall and brooding character, I just didn’t cross that line from “interesting” to “caring so deeply about them”.

Overall, The Beautiful is not a bad book: once it really gets started, it’s quite an entertaining read, it’s just a shame that it took so long to get started…. and isn’t properly finished, because there’s a sequel. I’d still recommend it if you like Renee Ahdieh’s lush writing and are a fan of vampires stories.

Final rating: 3 drops!

A million thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a digital ARC of this book via NetGalley. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.

Trigger warnings: murder, violence, assault, mentions of blood, loss of a loved one, mention of rape.

Diversity: biracial main character, Scottish side-character, main character with Spanish origins, side character with East Indian origins.

Gravemaidens, Kelly Coongoodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

Read the full synopsis ▼

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I think that my biggest issue with Gravemaidens was that, unfortunately, it ended up being a little triggering for me and there were some scenes I had to  pass because I just couldn’t handle it. Please take care and read trigger warnings before heading into this book.

Gravemaidens was such a promising debut overall, with an original premise I loved. The world and its mythology, based on young girls being selected to join their ruler in the afterlife, was really unique and interesting to read about. The story was carried by Kammani, the main character, determined to save her sister from this death sentence. I really liked her, her determination, her fierceness, her drive for love and for her family and friends, made me care for her and root for her right from the start, too.

One thing I felt like was missing in Gravemaidens, was depth. In the relationships, in the world. I understood Kammani’s need to protect her sister, her conflicting romantic feelings as well, but I felt like they were lacking some depth, some strength for me to really fall for these relationships. The same goes for the world building: I loved its roots and its idea, I wish somehow that it had been explained and explored a little more for me to fall in love with it. Then again, it’s a duology so I guess we can, hopefully, expect more from its sequel.

Overall, Gravemaidens was still a very unique, entertaining read I’d recommend for fans of dark fantasy reads. I felt like it was missing a little something for me to really fall in love with it, but who knows, you just might.

Final rating: 3 drops!

A million thanks to Penguin Random House International for sending me an ARC of this book through NetGalley. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.

Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one, loss of a parent, death, torture, abuse, mention of rape, mention of suicide, sexual assault and groping, grief, violence, description of medical procedures and infant’s birth, stillbirth, alcoholism.

Diversity: POC characters.

Did you read The Beautiful or/and Gravemaidens? Do you want to?

What are some of the latest fantasy books you’ve read that you would recommend? I’d love to hear from you in comments!





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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

30 thoughts on “Mini reviews: The Beautiful, Gravemaidens

  1. Sad to see that both are quite mediocre for you!
    I really like the wrath and the dawn duology, but I’ve seen some ‘negative’ reviews for the beautiful, so I’m not really sure what to expect!
    Great reviews!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I’m so sad The Beautiful disappointed me a bit, it wasn’t a bad read, I just expected a little more from it 😦 I hope that if you give it a try, you will like it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The minute I saw that The Beautiful was announced, I knew I had to read it! A Vampire comeback? Yes PLEASE. Since then, I saw a few mixed reviews about it, but I still plan on reading it to make my own opinion! I just sounds like a novel I would enjoy immensely. ♥ I hope it doesn’t disappoint!
    I love these mini reviews Marie ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad about The Beautiful. I have yet to read a positive review of it, unfortunately. Though I am glad that there are positives. She does write beautifully, and I am glad it picked up! I actually really liked Gravemaidens, but I definitely get what you mean! Great reviews, but I am sorry they weren’t total wins for you- at least they were okay!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a little sad about it, too, I was anticipating SO badly. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Gravemaidens, yay! It was a great read, it was just a little too much for me at times unfortunately.
      Thank you ❤


  4. I’ve seen both of these on many highly anticipatory lists… and I’m glad I avoided them now. I’ve never been a fan of vampires so that was an easy choice. It’s sad though when pacing pretty much kills a book, but the characters could have saved it. And wanting more out of a story’s world GAHHHH those kind of books kill my heart. I so want them to work. You totally killed mini reviews Marie!! …. though I guess I can’t talk as I did a mini review post recently and thought… wow I really can’t mini review can I?! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you so much, Dani! I’m glad my review comforted you in your choices! These two had so much potential, but unfortunately missed the mark for me a little bit.
      And I get you – I can’t do mini reviews, I ramble on for too long hahaha.


  5. Awesome reviews Marie! I’ve decided to skip on the beautiful since people have been so polarizing on it. The fact that the vampires are barely in it makes it so sound so disappointing! And I’m going to be reading gravemaidens soon 🙂 I’m glad you liked it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve got both of these on my TBR! But I do understand that disappointment when you don’t connect deeply to a story? I’ve been finding that’s happening a lot to me lately and, gah, I want something to obsess over! But I’ll still definitely be trying these 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? I feel like I need a story I’ll be OBSESSED about and… unfortunately that wasn’t the case here. Maybe in a next read, hopefully haha 🙂
      I can’t wait to hear what you think of both of these 🙂


  7. I an soo sorry that both of these reads were a bit disappointing Marie!! ESPECIALLY Gravemaidens because…well EVERYONE HAS BEEN SOOO EXCITED FOR IT!! But I agree that if you are unable to care enough about the main relationships and the characters, if you are in two minds about how things are being handled in the story then it ruins the whole reading experience!

    And yet, even after all this you managed to your reviews were super consider AND SOOOO SWEET! LOVED THEM!! 😍😍❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooh, great mini reviews! They’re all really concise! Aw, these books were both anticipated reads for me, so I’m disappointed to see that you didn’t enjoy them very much 😕 but I’m sure there are LOTS of other hyped books that I might enjoy more! 💟

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh thank you, I’m glad to hear that – I always struggle at being concise haha I ramble on sometimes. I hope that if you decide to give these a try, you’ll enjoy them more than I did! Other people adored both of these 🙂
      Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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