Title: The Damned
Series: The Beautiful #2
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: July 7th, 2020 (G. P. Putnam’s Sons BYR)
Synopsis: Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.
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.
“What I am has no bearing on who I become.”
Following the horrific events at the end of The Beautiful, both Sébastien and Celine’s lives have changed forever. Bastien is now a vampire, the last thing he ever wished to be. His changing is against the treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood and war is on the horizon. Meanwhile, Celine is attempting to recover from the trauma of events she cannot remember, and desperately seeks out more information, leading her straight back into the supernatural world. Nicodemus’ memory wipe seems to be failing by the day and Celine’s quest to find the truth will reveal far more secrets than those she sought.
Despite having significantly lower expectations for The Damned, I still ended up somewhat disappointed. While this book significantly expanded on the world-building in terms of different supernatural beings and the rather complicated politics between them – but it all felt very surface level and I honestly ended up skimming through a lot. 1870s New Orleans is a setting that could have been used to so much more effect than it was, something I noticed in the first book as well, but the story is so far removed that the historical setting is basically pointless. I thought this was a duology but turns out there’s atleast one more book and I recently read somewhere that this is actually a quartet so now I don’t know what to think.
As always, I did enjoy Renee Ahdieh’s writing and narrative style, which was what really convinced me to even give this book a shot. It was quite easy to read, but rather lacking in character development outside the central ones, and even the plot was hard to follow as there were just so many threads. The Damned is definitely more of Bastien’s book. One thing I thought that was very well portrayed was Bastien’s struggle with his new reality and the loss of not only his love but also his humanity. Celine on the other hand was a very different character from the one I remembered. It was good to see that despite the horrific experience she has been through – and can’t recall – she is still as strong as ever, determined to adapt and figure things out, but overall, she was largely absent from this book and that really affected her characterization. As for the others, getting a glimpse of how things work amongst the vampire family, and learning a little more about their backstories was great, and Odette having a POV was a pleasant surprise. She’s definitely my favourite of the members of the Cours des Lions.
Did they really have to bring Fae into this as well? Vampires and werewolves really were more than sufficient, especially considering they’re about to declare war on each other, and I don’t know about you, readers, but I’m just a little tired of Faerie stories for now. Then there was Celine’s unexpected heritage, of which we had absolutely no hint until she starts getting her memories back despite whatever Nicodemus did.
Also, pacing. I always take it as a bad sign if I’m not sufficiently engaged in a book by atleast the 40% mark, and this didn’t pick up until the last third of the book. I think the main problem was that I was expecting the story to wrap up in this book, but it ended up going somewhere quite unexpected. Basically there’s a lot of conversations, hints at nefarious plans by various people, and then a flood of action scenes. As for this love triangle that’s going on – did anyone think that Michael ever really had a shot? Paranormal YA is just so predictable after a point, whenever Celine figures out her memories, she’ll obviously go straight back to Bastien, so this whole thing was thoroughly unnecessary.
So will I read the next book? It’s a huge maybe at this point since despite that ending, I don’t know if I’m sufficiently curious enough about what’s going to happen next to read the book rather than just find a summary later. All in all, I’m still feeling pretty detached when it comes to this series, but I’ll reserve judgement for now. If you enjoyed The Beautiful, I would definitely suggest giving this book a try.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: