304 Pages | Thomas Dunne Books (Republished by Tor) | 10/24/2017
I’ve been wanting to read Silvia Moreno-Garcia since Mexican Gothic made a splash on the book internet last year. I jumped at the chance to review The Beautiful Ones–not realizing this is one of her backlist titles that has been republished.
Let me tell you
This book was so…odd. It takes the plot of a romantic historical drama and infuses it with magic and fantasy in an extremely subtle way that (while it didn’t make the book less enjoyable) left me wondering why it was there at all?
It’s set amongst the aristocracy in the opulent Francophile city of Loisail. Famous magician, Hector Aurvary, has come to town to reclaim Valérie, the love he lost many years ago. The years have turned Valérie cold and she has made a life for herself as a society wife who is now tasked with turning her nineteen-year-old ward, Nina, into a proper lady. As The Grand Season begins, Nina immediately falls for the alluring magician and their courtship is just the thing Hector needs to enter Valérie’s opulent world.
So basically this book plays out like a parlor room drama. There are affairs, extravagant balls, deceit, and betrayal. It was actually quite a riveting tale. Even though I wasn’t a fan of how the love triangle between Valérie, Hector, and Nina was settled –I found myself in awe of Garcia’s imagination
But I just didn’t understand why this book had to be set in a fictional land? The setting felt so believable that it actually took me a while to realize this wasn’t set in a real-time or place, I just thought Loisail was a French province I’d never heard of. Maybe Moreno-Garcia did this because this world does have ‘magic’–meaning some individuals are born with telekinetic abilities. But other than Hector and Nina bonding over their abilities it doesn’t come up much in the story or plot.
This book is in a class of its own. I’d categorize it as a fantasy historical drama with magic elements. I’m ready to dive into more of Moreno-Garcia’s work.