Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh
911? hello? I’d like to report a murder of my heart at the hands of Renée Ahdieh. 😭😭😭 While this book wasn’t as big of a slam dunk for me, I am in desperate need of the third book (also since when is this not a duology?). If you were left wanting for paranormal in The Beautiful, let me tell you that you’ll love the expansion of the worldbuilding and supernatural elements.
About The Damned
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s BFYR | Release Date: July 7, 220 | Pages: 456
Age Range: Young Adult | Genre: Historical Fantasy | Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.
Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.
New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.
This post uses affiliate links and I may receive a small commission for purchases made through my links at no additional cost to you. Click here for more information.
blood, death, gore, loss of a loved one, memory loss & gaps, murder, obsession with blood purity, racism, sexism, violence
biracial main character, lgbtqiap+ representation, racially diverse world
My Review of The Damned
While this review is spoiler-free for The Damned, it may contain spoilers for The Beautiful so tread lightly if you haven’t read the first book in the series.
If you’re a fan of mutual pining and star-crossed romance, this series is certainly for you. The Beautiful features one of my favorite slow-burn romances, and The Damned has torn the two lovers apart, breaking my heart in two. Bastien and Celine were put through the ringer and I appreciate that this series installment grapples with those events before moving forward.
“What you are has no bearing on who you become, Sebastian. Man or demon. That is entirely up to you. It is never too late to be the better version of yourself.“
This is very much Bastien’s book. Where The Beautiful is primarily about Celine feeling trapped by her past and society’s expectations for her, The Damned centers on Bastien struggling with the new life he’s been assigned and the expectations associated with it. Not only his uncle’s expectations, but also his own and what he thinks his new life means for him.
“People tended to recall things not as they were but as they wished them to be.”
With the loss of Celine’s memories, there is a discussion about memory, its reliability, and whether or not one is better off without the baggage of painful memories. It sure sounds like an amazing option to be able to forget, but what if you don’t feel right? All of our experiences shape us, and what if we feel like something is missing? In the search for what’s missing, are we doomed to fall right back into the same patterns? There’s a philosophical discussion of nostalgia in Ignorance by Milan Kundera that I couldn’t help but think about while reading.
“This is what it means to live. To choose a path and face the consequences.”
While I didn’t enjoy The Damned quite as much as I did the first book, overall I am still so here for these characters even though due to Plot Reasons they felt very much Not Themselves.
What I Liked
- The all-encompassing atmosphere still brings the reader on the streets of New Orleans. I love the lush descriptions of the food that make me so incredibly hungry and the attention to sartorial detail that both bring the book to life.
- The pining because I like to Suffer. The events of The Beautiful have brought new challenges to Sébastien and Celine and elevated the star-crossed love vibes ten-fold.
- The worldbuilding is really interesting and way more than I expected from the series! I can’t say more than this.
What Didn’t Work for Me
- I struggle with multiple perspectives, so the narrative shift from a single POV to… like? six? perspectives was Rough. It was all third person as well, and at times the POVs bled together and lacked a distinctive voice for me.
- The slow pacing and lack of a cohesive plot for the beginning of the book. For the most part it all came together by the end, but I don’t think most of the Jae, Madeline, etc chapters were really necessary.
- Because of what happened at the end of The Beautiful, the characters are not quite themselves. What I liked about them seemed to be lost and I struggled a bit as a result of the multiple perspectives.
- We didn’t have a Celine chapter for over 100 pages. What’s up with that?!?!
Look, I know this review is a mess and I’m sorry! Part of me wanted to try something new with format but the other part is married to being overly verbose. All this being said, I adored the expansion of the worldbuilding and that the book is more paranormal than the first. The first third of the book was rough for me on the pacing front, but I definitely found myself sucked back into this beautiful world and stayed up way too late to finish the book! My struggles with the book are ultimately rooted in the multiple perspectives, but overall I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to The Righteous, especially since it looks like Pippa may get the page-time she deserves! I just hope that it has a more distinct narrative flow.
No two readers experience a book in the same way; this was mine, but what about you?
💬 Have you read The Beautiful series yet? If so, what are your thoughts?
💬 What are your feelings about multiple perspectives in books?
💬 What are your favorite books with vampires? What about books with star-crossed lovers?
Let’s go on another adventure together!