The Beautiful & the Cursed by Page Morgan
The Dispossessed #1
Published May 14th 2013 by Delacorte Books
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.
In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.
And Grayson has gone missing.
No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.
Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.
**An ARC was provided by Delacorte Books in exchange for an honest review**
The Beautiful and the Cursed has a gorgeous setting, a fresh twist on paranormal creatures and as the title promises: beautiful people. I enjoyed the Parisian backdrop, the creeptastic gargoyle-lore and the mystery but overall, it still reminded me a bit too much of the typical YA paranormal-romance package which seems to have become the standard now.
The Beautiful and the Cursed mostly follows Ingrid Waverly, after an embarrassing social faux-pas that results in her making the move from London to Paris, along with her younger sister Gabby and their mother. The story is told in 4 alternating POV's, with Ingrid getting the most story time, her sister Gabby, the 'devastatingly handsome servant' Luc also get their turns and we are also treated, on occasion, to chapters or passages told from Ingrid & Gabby's missing brother Grayson's POV. While multiple point of views don't always work for me, I could see the purpose this time around and it allowed the story to be told more fully. The different voices were easy to distinguish and I enjoyed getting to know Gabby and Luc on a more personal level. The addition of Grayson's perspective was definitely useful to give the tone a darker and more ominous feel right from the word go.
The mystery surrounding the plot was definitely a highlight and easily kept my interest throughout. I also felt like the Parisian backdrop and gothic abbey setting really fit the tone and provided a stellar ambiance throughout. It was the perfect tone to introduce a fresh breed of paranormal creature: ages-old gargoyles. How often do you get to read about a creature you've never read about before?! Needless to say the gargoyle-lore had me riveted and left me wanting more. I thought it was neat how the author incorporated other, even scarier paranormal beings to the mix, like demons and hell-hounds. Hell-hounds are beyond creepy guys and these ones did not disappoint. The added element of the gory murders taking place intermittently through the book gave everything an even darker and twisted vibe - it's nothing over-the-top by any means but it has the desired effect. We may be in a lovely Parisian setting in 1899, but with all these dark creatures running about the streets after dark, Paris is far from safe.
Given time period that The Beautiful and the Cursed is set in - 1899, I suppose that it's understandable that both of the Waverly sisters were a tad more on the helpless side that I would have liked. They are from a privileged family so maybe that added to their whole helpless personas because they've clearly been waited on hand and foot since birth. Nevertheless, I found myself wishing that both Ingrid and Gabby had shown more independent-thinking or even resourcefulness. Since both girls seemed so lost without boys to explain things or lead them, I had a bit of a harder time connecting with them. They were both compelling in their own right, I just expected even more I guess...
As far as the romantic aspect goes, although I did like the main potential romantic pairing, I felt the addition of the love-triangle element(s) to be unnecessary. The main love-triangle didn't really work for me and then there was an extra one added in, which made it all feel ever more redundant - not everyone in life is part of/or wants to be a part of love-triangle! I certainly don't so sometimes I just fail to see the appeal >.< The inclusion of this annoying triangular plot device just made the entire book feel an awful lot like déjà-vu to me. If the romance had been as fresh as the rest of the plot was, I'd have been a happy camper. Don't get me wrong though, the romantic aspects don't take over the book by any means and it may not bother others as much, but with my recent romantic flops in YA fiction, I've been getting a bit tired of the whole thing.
The plot was on the slower side too which was surprising, especially with the kind of scenario and creatures we're dealing with here. Despite some gruesome murders happening at regular intervals, it took until well over half of the book for things to start moving along. Some bits did manage to surprise me along the way, as they were revealed but nothing really blew me away.
All things considered, The Beautiful and the Cursed was enjoyable but it also was a fairly middle-of-the-road read for me. While the unique premise and setting were refreshing, I still felt like I'd read some variation of this story many times before. I will be checking out the sequel though to see how the story will develop from here - it has tons of potential for the plot to build and develop in later books and I feel like we really only started brushing the surface of these characters.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars