Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: The Beautiful & the Cursed

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

20 comments:

  1. I agree about the love triangles...one is normally too many but this one had two and I was annoyed by it. I wasn't expecting it to be as slow as it was either, but I actually kind of enjoyed the pace.

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    1. haha yes exactly, two was on the excessive side >.< I didn't really mind the pace either I guess, I just wasn't expecting it I guess and it threw me off.

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  2. The Parisian setting and the gargoyles definitely both sound intriguing. I haven't read about them as paranormal creatures before, and even though I'm a little wary of the love triangle(s), I'll probably give this a try just for the gargoyles.

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    1. I'd definitely recommend you checking it out anyways! I can see people really liking this one and not being bothered as much as I was! Case of bad timing maybe? hehe :)

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  3. The setting and fresh take on paranormal sounds lovely, thanks for the review and pytting on my radar

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    1. Those were definitely my favorite bits! Thanks Brandi :)

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  4. I've been looking forward to reading this one for ages, but I haven't seen many reviews on it. It's a shame about the love triangles though...I would love to just read a paranormal YA book without a ton of romance in it for once! I'm intrigued by the gargoyles and hell-hounds, so I'll still give this one a go, I just won't be going into it with super-high expectations. Lovely review!

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    1. Awww thanks Hollie! Yeah this one was on my wishlist since I'd first heard about it too, how often do you get to read about a creature you've NEVER read about before. Honestly, it was worth it just for that...and the Parisian setting! I think if my expectations would have been pre-lowered it would have been better. Though those double-triangles still would have annoyed me >.<

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  5. I'm sorry you didn't love this one 100%, hun! I agree that love triangles are sort of annoying, but because I don't read all that many books with them I can still enjoy them if they're well done.
    I love what you're saying about the hell-hounds and gargoyles! I just preordered the book yesterday and I'm looking forward to seeing it all for myself. The girls' lack of independent thinking sounds a bit worrying though :/ I don't like it if the boys have to spell it all out to the girls.

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    1. Thanks sweetness! Yeah I think that I have love-triangle overdose with my recent reads so it frustrated me more than I might have done otherwise. But still, I can't help but roll my eyes at two triangles in one book >.< hehe But yeah, I loved the gargoyle-lore, creepy hellhounds and, let's be honest: Paris! Glad you'll be reading it though, can't wait to see how you'll like it!

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  6. Great review, Micheline. I'm glad you found it enjoyable even if you didn't like the love triangle and it felt a bit predictable. I agree with you that this seems to format in YA Paranormal Romance these days. The Parisian backdrop sounds lovely though. And I'm definitely intrigued with the gargoyle lore. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much Brandee! Exactly, this one wasn't really worst than other YA paranormals for someone who doesn't read the genre that often. For me, it just felt like overkill. The gargoyle lore and Parisian backdrop made it worth it though!

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  7. Such a pretty cover! I don't think this would work for me as like you, I am a bit over all the paranormal romance novels that seems to be too similar. But, I do like the sound of the time period and setting :)

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    1. It is pretty isn't it?! I think it would be a good idea if I took a break from 'those types' of YA paranormals...at least for a little bit. I might just be burned out >.<

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  8. I didn't even realize that the book is set in 1899, UK cover is very deceiving on that front! :) Gorgeous review, Micheline, and it made me aware of what exactly I should expect from this book. Thank you, it will stay on my wishlist for a little bit longer :)

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    1. I agree, the UK cover better represents to dark tone and the gargoyles BUT it looks terribly modern. I think it's in the jacket the girl is wearing! Thanks for the sweet comment Kara, I definitely recommend you still checking it out - I may just have not been in the right mood for it :)

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  9. Too bad it was middle ground as it sounded really promising and totally my kind of read!

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    1. It sounded like my kind of read too,and it was in some ways...just not as much as I'd hoped! I do think you still ought to check it out, maybe just with somewhat lower expectations :)

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  10. Ooh, gargoyles!! Neat, I'd be into that, as well, because I've certainly never read any books featuring gargoyle lore either! Other than the gargoyles and the setting and mystery though... I can see why you found this one to be a bit lacklustre. So, there were TWO love triangles here?? Oi! WHY?! I mean, one is painful enough, but to throw another one in there... ugghh, I can see why that would have affected the story for you. That sucks. I was really hoping this one would be something special, but I can't say the book has managed to maintain my interest based off your review. Too bad! But thanks for the review anyway. Very enlightening!

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  11. I agree, and I think it was worth the read simply because of the unique lore and setting. The double triangles weren't all that prominent but the main love-story was the sort of standard cliché, forbidden paranormal romance... so even if the love-stuff was on the back burner, I was still annoyed by it hehe Like you, I just wanted this one to be more special than it turned out I guess :)

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