ARC Review: The Beautiful Ones

Title: The Beautiful Ones
Author: Silvia Moreno Garcia
Rating: 4/5 stars
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.
When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.
But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina—and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

I’m back after a rather long unplanned hiatus, oops! This year has been extra tough on my mental health but I’ve really been prioritizing my well-being over my productivity and I’m feeling much better now (which is also why I haven’t been posting anything for the past 2 months). I’ve been reading a lot of really great books lately; The Beautiful Ones was an absolute delight, and I’m here to tell you why it’s worth a read.

The Beautiful Ones is the fourth book I’ve read by Sylvia Moreno Garcia. What I love about her books is that they are all completely different in terms of time period, setting, genre, and tone, but I have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. This one is a comedy of manners set in a magical version of 1800s (?) France. Henry Auvray is a telekinetic magician, a job that is considered unseemly for those of the upper classes. Nina is a young woman who is still growing into her powers despite the disapproval of her sister-in-law Valérie. When Nina decides to pursue Henry in hopes of him teaching her to use her powers, Valérie decides she needs to put a stop to it for more reasons than one. What follows is full of messy relationships, dramatic misunderstandings, and passionate declarations (both written and spoken). In short, all the trappings of a good Regency novel.

I really loved how our perspective on the characters changes as the novel goes on. Henry seems pretty callous at first, Antonina naive, and Valérie scheming and petty. I grew to love all the characters, even the ones who were awful, as I learned more about these characters’ backstory and watched the comedy of manners unfold. I would say the first half of the book is slow, and the real fun part is the second half, but overall it is still more fast-paced than a traditional Austen novel.

The writing style was sharp yet decadent, and I felt like it matched the tone of the story incredibly well. There is quite a lot of ugliness by way of jealousy and betrayal beneath the facade of smiling, polite faces and I thought this was captured especially well.

If a standalone comedy of manners with a dash of magic and a slow-burn romance is your thing, this is absolutely the book for you!

A free e-ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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