The Beautiful Ones

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 04 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early November.

Very glittery, quite glam storytelling, yet the characters stilled by etiquette, family wealth & mobility, and social station. Hector, a psychokinetic magician, is emboldened to find his way back to the upper-class strata where his first love, Valerie, lives with her husband, Gaetan. His head unexpectedly turns toward Nina, a young, enthusiastic lass who is Gaetan's cousin. Valerie eagerly yet decisively playing matchmaker for Nina between him and an equally young man named Luc; each member of this love polygon needing to make a life-changing choice right down to the very end.
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NOTE: This review will be published on my blog later on this month.

The Beautiful Ones took me by surprise as unlike many other fantasy I tend to read, it had a heavy focus on romance and complex interpersonal relationships. The structure of the writing was reminiscent of a well-loved Austen novel - filled with commentary on the societal expectations on women and thorough examination of the tribulations of love. While the fantastical elements within this story is sparingly used, telekinetic power is a driving force of the plot points and romantic entanglements within the novel.

This novel is set in a world inspired by the Belle Epoque and separated into two parts. Within the first half, we encounter the main characters who make up the torrid love triangle, two of whom shares a turbulent past. Antonina Beaulieu is a newcomer to the glamorous City of Loisail, where she will be attending her first Grand Season under the guidance of her cousin’s wife: Valerie Beaulieu. Nina has had constant troubles navigating high society due to her manifesting telekinetic abilities, which makes her an easy target for gossip.  During one of her first balls, Nina encounters Hector Auvray, a telekinetic performer with similar powers to her own. Hector has machinations of his own, and immediately offers to give Nina guidance with her latent powers. Nina begins a tentative courtship with Hector, being completely unaware of his previous passionate entanglement with Valerie.

The novel is incredibly character focused, with many of the chapters focusing on the development of their relationships or reminiscing their shared past. However, the immersive quality of the writing kept this book from being dull despite the slower pacing. Although I did not come to love any of the characters, I found their motives and interactions incredibly compelling. Hector’s all-consuming obsession for Valerie set in motion his ignoble plan to use Nina to get to his old flame. Nina is completely charmed by Hector, unable to see that his attention is entirely reserved for another woman. Meanwhile, we learn that Valerie chose wealth and privilege over love with a penniless Hector over a decade ago – and we are left to ponder whether this calculating woman ever regretted her decision.

While I found the plot of this novel very predictable, I also found it extremely page-turning. Character driven novels tend to be slow in pace, but due to the various machinations and torrent of emotion propelling this story forward, it never lagged. I wish that more of the telekinetic component was incorporated into the plot, as Nina ended up bonding with Hector over beetles rather than their shared ability. The character arcs within this story will feel familiar, especially to readers well versed in classic romance – but the characters are charismatic enough to keep you wanting more.

Overall, I think this book would be a great bridging novel between readers who love both their classic romance and fantasy. The character-centric focus of the novel felt experimental, and it’s one that largely paid off thanks to the quality of the writing.
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This was a beautifully written story. While the description raised my expectations for more of a story of their telekinesis abilities, it serves more as a plot device. (And I confess, as a HUGE fan of magical realism, I kept waiting for this element to play a larger role in the story). 

However, this is less a story around their abilities and more a character study. As such, its pace is languid, the descriptions lush and the personalities of the characters so well drawn that I found myself having visceral reactions to them. Nina was innocent and almost annoyingly naive, Valerie hard and bitter, with a nasty edge, and Hector? Well, I was fascinated by him, disdained him a bit, and then had a change of heart. What can I say?.
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I really enjoyed this story.  The story line kept my interest.  I do believe that this book will make a great addition to anybodies library collection.
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So this book started off slow for me but it did eventually get interesting. I would read more books by this author.
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Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Let me start of by saying that I have a great book for you to read. And I’ll warn you at first…it does start off a little slow, but don’t let that stop you from the amazing finish that this book has in store! This is one of the first books in awhile that I have stayed up late to keep reading because it captivated me. I kept flipping to the next page, wanting to know what was going to happen to this nature, bug loving girl in the ever so polite high society she didn’t want to be a part of. So, in order to put my thoughts together in this review I decided I will give you three main reasons you need to read this book:

1. The Romance: This book is set up similar to a Pride and Prejudice novel, where the thought of being alone with a guy is a complete no no and you have to ask the head male of the family for permission to court. But that doesn’t stop Nina (one of our main MC’s) to have a sort of heartbreaking type romance with Hector. It was a well thought out romance where at no point was a sick of reading about it.

2. The Characters: They are really well thought out and I felt so many emotions not only towards Nina and Hector but also Valerie. I really like the fact that the chapters alternated between their point of views. It was a way to understand each of the characters and how they thought and reacted with everything that was going on in their lives. While it seems to be a love triangle between the three main characters…it was one I could deal with and enjoyed reading how it played out.

3. The Setting: I really enjoyed how it was placed in another world based on our own but in a time similar to the late 1800’s France. It was easy to imagine the type of place and actions of other characters, like what was deemed appropriate for a gentleman and how it was frowned upon that Nina liked to be outside so much with the bugs and nature. I also enjoyed the fact that there was a little telekinetic powers thrown in there. While it wasn’t the main theme of the book, it definitely played an important part in the interaction of the characters.

Overall an amazing book about throwing out what society deems appropriate and finding that one true love. I highly suggest you get your hands on this book!
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica – ☆☆☆☆☆
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a new-to-me author, and I look forward to reading more by her in the future. I wasn't sure what to expect from The Beautiful Ones. Reading the blurb, it had a young adult fantasy/dystopian vibe, so I was surprised yet delighted to discover it was actually a historical romance, with a very – and I mean very – slight paranormal element of telekinesis. While it does add another dimension to the overall story, it's riding just below the surface, with the romance front and center.

Nina is from a huge family, her father gone, and her cousin taking the active role as her guardian. She's nineteen, on the cusp of being twenty, and about to attend her first season. Her doting cousin's wife is her chaperone of sorts, offering advice and whatnot.

Nina isn't into the balls, parties, and fancy gowns. She enjoys entomology and likes to flex her talent. She's a societal outcast, bullied and scorned for using her telekinesis. But she is also seen as being no great beauty, because in this era that is the only value/worth a woman has.

Hector is a broken man, with no family, and only a singular friend. A telekinetic, he's a performer in a theater – he enjoys his job and little else out of life. He's been hanging onto the 'fantasy' of a lost love, mind spinning it into more than it was at the time, and it's stunted his growth in life and removed the possibility of happiness from his vocabulary.

I don't wish to spoil the angst-riddled story, so I won't get overly detailed on plot points. The Beautiful Ones takes place in an era where manipulation is easy because only appearances matter. Words are twisted, people are easily brainwashed or blackmailed. If there was a moral to the story, I'd say it was to be courageous and go after what will make you happy, not what is expected of you.

There is a character in the book, and usually I'm not a violent reader (snorts). This character left me wringing my Kindle as if it were a neck, out of pure frustration. I don't believe this person was inherently evil, but a product of society. Vapid, having most of the darker emotions associated with the human condition, this person's 'got what's coming to them' made me feel sad in a way. It was the juxtaposition of being a coward and thinking yourself powerful, while thinking others who are brave are weak. This character is a moral unto itself.

Nina and Hector take the reader on a head-spinning angsty journey. Nina isn't a damsel in distress. She does make some rock-meets-hard-place choices, but given her age and the era, she didn't have much of a choice in the matter at the time. So I will definitely say Nina is not the vapid, simpering, weak, flighty heroines one generally finds in Historical Romance. As long as the author writes a strong heroine, I'll suck up every word of the book.

There were times I didn't like Hector, but his mind was altered, similar to an addict's, and it took the course of the novel for Hector to deprogram himself and start the healing process. Near the end of the novel, I was rooting for Hector.

I read The Beautiful Ones in a single sitting, having been hooked from the start. I will admit the pacing is rather slow, and the will-they-won't-they did become rather tedious, but the depth of the characterization kept me engaged from start to finish.
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This is less of a book about telekinetic powers and lore of a historical soap opera. Probably 95% of the book had nothing to do with people having powers, and that plot point could’ve been left out entirely and nothing would’ve changed much. 
I’m focusing on the telekinesis because that’s what drew me to this book. I’m disappointed it wasn’t more present. 
All in all, this is one of the better historical fictions I’ve read lately. I’m not really a fan of the genre most of the time.
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Nina Beaulieu is not like other girls of her station - she prefers insects and practicing her telekinetic abilities to embroidery and dancing. She has been sent to the city under the supervision of her cousin Valerie to participate in the Grand Season and become more ladylike. Soon after arriving a handsome performer named Hector Auvray catches her eye and begins courting her. However, the courtship may not be what it seems...

The Beautiful Ones is a story of love and the drama that is ever present when money and privilege are involved. Though fairly predictable, the novel is enjoyable due to likable characters and an interesting setting. Fans of social drama among the rich and powerful will like this book.
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1. This title is misleading. There is a beautiful one, not 'ones'. After having read it, it's not what I thought it would be at all.

2. Which leads me to here. Being mislead by the synopsis. It sounds like it is going to be a whole lot more interesting, detailed, interesting, fast-paced, and interesting than it actually is. 

3. And finally, this book is boring. I get how hard it is to write a book that's interesting -- especially one like this. Which in such situations the main characters have to be so we'll developed and likeable that it makes up for the slowness of pace. I didn't care for any of them and only continued on out of a randomly appearing sense of obligation to NetGalley to finish it. 

I wouldn't recommend it. To anyone. Because I can't see much of anything that is redeemable in the story. The best part was the end when it was all finally over. That said I want to give the author a high five for trying. She gave it a good go and I think with some grooming her next stories could be really, really great.
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THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is a sweeping historical romance with a dash of paranormal added in that feels almost incidental. Typically for this blog we review books that are a bit heavier on the paranormal/magic or even science fiction. While I enjoyed the plot (albeit a tad slow), the writing, and characters; I was left wondering what the real point of having characters with telekinesis in the story was. That factor lessened my full enjoyment as I kept thinking "So what?" in regards to the paranormal aspect since it had only a tangential meaning to the story.

I liked the relationship building between Nina and Hector and they get to know each other through their shared abilities though again, that could have easily been written out or replaced with something else and the story would stay much the same. They each have an immediate attraction and admiration for their individual quirks which I loved, especially Nina's insect obsession. I also enjoyed the time jump as it takes away the idea of insta-love, allowing the characters to grown and mature and think about their feelings for each other. There is a love triangle that was actually a pretty complex one involving a past love and sabotage. I liked how it wasn't a typical love triangle and there was a certain depth to it beyond "two women like the same man: drama ensues".

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES is a very beautifully written historical romance about lost loves, heartbreak, and second chances. The paranormal aspect was mostly a plot device to get the characters to meet which is typically fine but perhaps that part could have been down played in the plot summary to not make people expect a certain genre and get another.
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This story wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a paranormal, fantasy young adult type read. Instead, the paranormal magical aspect was just kind of background filler.
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Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Level of Romance: High

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Beautiful Ones is a magical Regency-style romance. She meets him at a ball. Antonina Beaulieu is experiencing her first Grand Season in the city of Loisail when one of the worst dancers of her acquaintance begins to make his way toward her.  She hides in the library and finds herself in company with the handsome and mysterious Hector Auray. The two share some conversation and a dance but part ways before the evening is over. Then Hector visits her the following day.  Antonia quickly falls in love. Hector is the one person with whom she can be herself; he too has a powerful telekinetic gift and he actually helps her train so she can control her powers. But Hector has a dark secret and it may just destroy any chance they have at happiness.

She wanted to extend her hand and touch his face, to ask him what made him sorrowful, and then to kiss his mouth, to lavish caresses upon him. She did not dare, not yet, but she knew well that that the quivering feeling inside her could not be contained any longer.

Filled with gothic overtones and lush, vivid characters this is a story that captures the heart and imagination.
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Antonina Beaulieu is more used to country living and studying beetles, but when she comes to the city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, that changes. Under the guidance of Valérie Beaulieu, her beautiful and cold aunt, Nina sets out to find a husband. She’ll just have to keep her tendency to say what she thinks and her telekinetic powers under wraps if she wants to keep the gossip at bay.

Then Nina meets Hector Auvray, a telekinetic performer who sees her powers as a gift. As Hector helps Nina develop her talents, she falls in love with him. But Hector is keeping a dark secret that could tear Nina’s world apart.

The Beautiful Ones is both magical and beautiful, with a Jane Austen-like feel for its also being a comedy of manners. Nina is a brave girl who stumbles as she enters a new world she doesn’t understand. Nina’s propensity to speak her mind and act without thinking gives her trouble at the hands of the elite of society, but her love for Hector gives her hope.

Hector is battling demons from his past, and his good intentions are often derailed at the hands of long-held dreams. The battles he faces are as hard as those of Nina, and the darkness threatens to overtake them both. I loved this book! Very different, with hints of steampunk twisted with a classical literary feel.
 
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
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The Beautiful Ones is described as a fantasy novel. It’s more accurately a romance set in AlternaFrance during the Belle Epoque. It has all the Regency Romance genre tropes. There’s Nina, the naive, innocent, independent, and feisty heroine with anachronistically modern values. There’s Hector Auvrey, the wealthy, handsome, hero wounded by bad romance and betrayal who courts her but does not love her. Of course, there is the villain Valérie Véries, Nina’s cousin-in-law and Hector’s former lover, a woman as evil as she is beautiful. And then there’s the wrong man, Luc, an ambitious, avaricious, but amiable man who is easily led by Valérie.

The romance consumes 98% of the novel. The 2% that is fantasy is the telekinetic powers shared by Nina and Hector. He helps refine her skills. I guess AlternaFrance’s made up town names is part fantasy, too.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is new to me and while the story has potential and could be interesting, it was not. I probably should have stopped without finishing, but it was a light, empty counterpoint to the many nonfiction books and challenging novels I have been reading. I was about to quit, looked at what else I am in the midst of reading, all of it serious nonfiction where authors use words like perdure and shrugged and went back to the candy.

But I am not happy with the book. Valérie is a one-dimensional monstrosity and her every motivation is explained in excruciating detail. Of course, everyone’s motivations are explained. Even the motivations that are hidden from themselves are explained to us because we can’t figure anything out for ourselves. This kind of tell, not show, prose plucks my nerves and makes me irritated. I always feel as though the author has no respect for the reader when the author does not allow us to understand anything on our own. If an author thinks so little of my discernment, I lose interest.

Let me give you an example, “Hector had spent so many years being the man who loved Valérie that he could not conceive of becoming anything else. She was a goddess at whose feet he worshipped, and to cease in his adoration of her would imply he had spent a decade following a false idol.” This kind of deep psychological insight is something we are supposed to figure out on our own, not have it handed to us. Here is another, “In acknowledging the depths of her hatred, Valérie was simultaneously able to, perhaps for the first time in her entire life, admit the extent of her love for him.”

This is just bad form. It deprives readers of their role. Reading a book should not be passive. We are not empty vessels to fill. We are active participants in reading, bringing to bear our own life experiences and understanding of humanity. If that role is taken from us, why are we reading?

I received an e-galley The Beautiful Ones for review from the publishers through NetGalley.

The Beautiful Ones at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan
Silvia Moreno-Garcia author site
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Antonina ("Nina") Beaulieu is headstrong, passionate, and finally escaping the countryside to enter her first season in London.  Instructed by her dispassionate and downright mean cousin, Valerie, to hide her telekinetic powers, Nina does not do a very good job of keeping it a secret.  Mostly because she does not know how to control them (kind of like Elsa before she gets her gloves in Disney's Frozen).  She finally gets the chance to meet someone like her, Hector Auvray, who can help her rein her powers in until appropriate.  But it's not just her powers that attract Hector's attention.  It's her connection to the one true love he could never get over; her cousin Valerie.

I took away one star because of the slow pace and how often it is beat into the reader's head that Valerie is the villain.  Although I appreciate that the reasoning for her cold and greedy heart was given, it still was too forced that she was the antagonist.  I took another star away for two reasons: 1. I did not get attached to the romance between Nina and Hector.  I thought it was very immature and overly dramatic.  2.  It is touted as sci-fi but that only came to the telekinetic powers that Nina and Hector have.  I understand that the telekinetic element is supposed to unify Hector and Nina as it is something that they share as well as makes them outsiders in society, however, it didn't scream science fiction to me.  

When it comes to characters, my favorite was Entienne, Hector's friend.  He was calm, loyal, and had a dry, frank sense of humor.  If there were to be anything further done with this plot, be it a sequel or spin-off, I do so hope it focuses on Entienne.  He honestly saved the book for me at the points where I was tempted to put it down and be done with it.  The other supporting characters seemed to be either shallow or weak.  I can see why Valerie's husband Gaetan should be weak (for the most part) to balance Valerie's ferocity, however, was still somewhat redundant.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy a manipulative and selfish villain.  I would also recommend this book for readers who enjoy telekinesis.  Lastly, I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy insects, particularly beetles, as they play a large part in the plot.  

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be triggered or offended by the following: mild foul language, suggestions of adultery, bullying, manipulation, and attempted murder.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review (thank you!).
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A thoroughly enjoyable romance with complex characters, growth and development and an engagingly suspenseful finish.
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Initially, I was attracted to this story by the cover. It’s a beautiful one and just wanted to jump in and it read it.

The story is about Antonina who lives in this world, where she has to attend an event, in order to meet a husband.  The story is written in the third person, which I have a hard time connecting with the characters. It was beautifully written though, I just didn’t connect. It is very slow at the beginning. I’m not a fan of slow, I’d rather get to the heart of what’s going on.

Overall, I give this Two Boundless Stars. It was ok but could have been better.
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My Rating
★★★☆☆.5

A sumptuous nineteenth century read, full of melodrama, misplaced love and heartbreak.

My Thoughts

This book isn’t my usual type of read. Unless it’s Shakespeare, I’m not that into historically themed books. I find many different time periods quite interesting, but they can be tedious to read, especially if they’re written poorly. This wasn’t the case with The Beautiful Ones, it was written beautifully, conforming to the time periods style of writing but also discernible.

The Beautiful Ones appears to be set in nineteenth century France, with stunning world building and elegant writing. What intrigued me most about this book was the hint of magic that was involved, this is what influenced me to request it. I enjoyed learning about the telekinetic powers that both Hector and Nina possessed, but it wasn’t enough for me personally. I expected there to be more action involving the powers, but they were merely a snippet of the book, so I was a little disappointed with that.

The book concentrated more on the relationships and romantic side of the story. I am an avid romance fan, so while this pleased me, I didn’t expect the book to be fixated on it and wanted a bit more oomph to the story.

The main three characters were particularly diverse. Nina is such a sweet girl and I was fond of reading her side of the story the most. She is a country girl at heart and doesn’t relish the life of a prim and proper lady, I found her refreshing! I have mixed feelings about Hector, although he is a gentleman, I don’t like the intentions behind his relationship with Nina and wanted to smack him profusely at the beginning! He does however have his reasons, which involves heartbreak, so I do sympathize. Valerie is one of the most vile characters I have ever had the misfortune to read about. She is a vain, malicious, corrupt little worm and should be eradicated from the world! I haven’t despised a character so much in a very long time, bravo Silvia for creating such a superbly wicked creature.

If you know me, then you are aware of my absolute HATE for love triangles! However this is what made the story tick, I despised it but I also couldn’t stop reading it. There is even a square at some point which just irritated me all the more. I don’t like triangles, or squares and don’t get me started on pentagons, just abolish the shapes ok?!

Don’t get me wrong, I did very much enjoy this book! I read it in a day which says a lot, but it was missing that spark, the life force that just didn’t seep through the pages for me. If you enjoy historically themed romance books with just a hint of magic, then you’ll really appreciate what The Beautiful Ones has to offer.

Sarah xo
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Moreno-Garcia's new novel is an engaging fantasy-romance with a hint of magic. It's set in Levrene, a country like... well, perhaps a bit like somewhere in central Europe, on a planet a bit like Earth, around the turn of the 20th century. While clearly an imaginary world, many of the place names, both local (Loisail, Montipouret, Luquennay) and remote (Port Anselm, Yehenn, Carivatoo), evoke that, as does the atmosphere of carriages, telegraphs and newly built railways.

Despite these stirrings of modernity it is still a ferociously traditional society, not to say patriarchal, with women's roles in particular fiercely constrained by the rules of etiquette and the fear of what Society will make of any scandal. A woman's only asset is, it seems, her reputation.

Against this background we follow the lives of Antonina (Nina) Beaulieu, a young woman from the country in the capital for her first Grand Season and Hector Auvray ("a castaway who had washed up on a room of velvet curtains and marble floors").

Nina would rather be at home collecting beetles and exploring the woods. She'd certainly prefer not to be under the dominion of her martinet Aunt Valérie. Valérie despises Nina and takes delight in being cruel to her: Nina, young and inexperienced, chaffed at the restrictions imposed on her and unknowingly torments Valérie with visions of what she has lost.

Hector is a performing magician - and here we meet the first feature that makes this book a little different. Hector can, in reality, perform magic - he can move objects by thought alone and has made a spectacular career of this. The place of magic in this book is well thought out - it's not high fantasy, we have no duelling mages here, and on the whole, "Talents" as they're called are accepted, if treated with a bit of suspicion. But there's no doubt Hector is an outsider to the carefully modulated social set who call themselves The Beautiful Ones.

This isn't only because of his abilities - Hector is of humble birth and that isn't forgotten, but he has amassed a fortune, and The Beautiful Ones do crave money for the upkeep of their ragged castles and their lavish lifestyles. ("Nothing matters more than money to us, the proper people who walk down these city streets in pristine gloves and silk-lined garments").

In fact, the quest for money via an advantageous marriage is ever present in this book, giving distinct echoes of Austen: Aunt Valérie in particular wouldn't be out of place in a drawing room weighing up newly arrived officers and considering which daughter should pair off with which. But there's more to Valérie than that - a tragically romantic past that has marked her life and drives here still. It wouldn't be too much to say she's the presiding spirit of this book, setting much of the plot in motion and pulling strings behind the scenes to get what she wants. It's a chilling, at times frightening role that makes one both hate and pity her. Warped by having had to conform herself and enter a loveless, childless marriage ten years, she's something of a cross between Lady MacBeth and Anna Karenina, she's now determined to inflict the same on others, her own hatred a measure of the love she believes she could have had.

I enjoyed the way that Moreno-Garcia makes Valérie both the voice, and the victim, of the stuffily rigidity society. It's a very character-driven, people-focussed story - beyond names and cultural trappings we don't learn a great deal about wider society, we don't see ordinary people at work or see anything of the politics (apart from learning, in a couple of throwaway lines, that there is a King). Yet by skewering that one one aspect - the position of women in the more privileged layer - we can I think infer the rest.

A very enjoyable read, with characters who felt real to me and about whom I found myself caring a great deal, and gripping to the very end.
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