The Beautiful and The Cursed
Author: Page Morgan
Release: May 14th 2013
Genre: Historical, Supernatural, Gargoyles, YA
#1 in the Dispossessed trilogy
After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.
In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.
And Grayson has gone missing.
No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.
Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.
Review:I'm so glad that I enjoyed this one as much as I did, because as the first novel I have read that's really centered around gargoyles, I can now safely say the first one I ever read was one I truly liked.
So, the supernatural aspect was, for once, original — at least for me, and for once, I also have to say I can understand why a historical setting was chosen. Usually, I can never really grasp a good reason other than the popularity of steampunk, as well as the authors wanting to have a reason for their characters to have "improper" relationship scandals and talk about how uncomfortable corsets are, although I'd wager at least half of the authors writing historical fiction haven't even worn one themselves. However, this novel had a good reason to be set around the turn of the century, in 1899 to be exact, because I couldn't imagine this novel taking place in our modern world and still be as grisly and gothic as it is the way it's written. So: I approve.
Other than that, first off I'd like to confess that yes, this book does have a bunch of silly clichés and things we've all seen across the YA world a thousand times already. It kind of has insta-love, although I'll say it's not that bad actually, it's got the impossible relationship where the guy realizes he can't be with the girl so he decides to be a douchebag in order to drive her away from him, we've got the love triangle (although it's not as pronounced yet, I fear that'll change in the sequel) and everyone is incidentally beautiful. Seriously, everyone, even the dude with the scarred face and glasses is handsome. Despite all of this, though, it was still a good novel and I'll tell you exactly why.
The thing I probably loved best about it is that it has two main female characters that couldn't be more different, but each one is strong and resilient in their own ways. Ingrid doesn't want to fight and kill, but she has an iron will and is naturally very powerful. Gabby, in turn, wants to protect the ones she loves with a sword in hand, wants to train how to fight, and is infuriatingly stubborn, taking shit from absolutely no one, not caring about etiquette if someone is fucking with her or her loved ones. I loved their diversity, how Ingrid and Gabby both show how a person can be strong on their own terms, in their own ways.
Nevertheless, even though they're polar opposites, they still share a very close bond, which is the second best thing I loved. Instead of being the deadweight, annoying little sister that is always being dragged behind, or is kept out of the loop in the first place, Gabby took charge of a lot of things and played a prominent role. Ingrid tells her what's going on very early on, so she's a major part of the events, and I really appreciated that for once. Usually, family, siblings and/or friends are being "shielded" from any and all supernatural happenings by the protagonist, and this involvement was very much needed, at least I needed it. Gabby and Ingrid are kicking butt whenever they're together (and separated!), and they always stick together, caring for and supporting one another, but not in a way that holds them back or anything. Man, I could sit here all day and tell you how much I loved their relationship.
Likewise, I did appreciate all the other characters and all of the relationships as well. There were a bunch of them in this one, and I do realize that characterization fell through for a lot of them, but I still think Morgan managed pretty well, considering. I mean, it's no Raven Boys, with a huge cast that is so perfectly characterized you can peel layer after layer of a character back and still discover something new, but I think I saw enough sides of enough characters to get a basic impression of them and to be sure in the knowledge I now know them pretty well.
Furthermore, and this kind of goes hand in hand with the point I just raised, I really liked that Morgan chose to write in 3rd person personal narrator that isn't linked to only one character. This way, there was the possibility of getting a chance to get a glimpse of every character's thoughts and feelings at one point or another, which made me feel all the more immersed in what was happening. It made me connect a lot more with the characters and also appreciate them more. Not to mention, her writing was absolutely drop dead gorgeous. Not even kidding. There aren't many writers out there that can write prettily, but Morgan is definitely one of them, and you all know how much I love lyrical writing.
Finally, let's discuss the plot of course. It's basically that Grayson, Ingrid and Gabby's brother, goes missing while a lot of young girls also go missing, and are consequently found torn to pieces in ditches. So, obviously the sisters are worried their brother might end up like those girls, and they take it upon themselves to try and find out what has happened, even if the police claim that he's probably just on a pro-longed debauchery trip, young, handsome man like him. I'm really glad that the characters who aren't aware of the underground supernatural ongoings are informed very early on in the book without much of a fuss actually, they take it pretty well (although not too well to be unrealistic!), and the action can start as soon as possible. There is a lot of bumbling about and stumbling around, but it's to be expected. I still enjoyed everything that was going on, it was entertaining and made me want to read on, kept it all interested and wasn't in the least bit boring.
All in all, you definitely have my go ahead for this one. It's a pretty original, intriguing read and I really liked it. Plus, with a cover and a title as beautiful as this, how could you say no? You know you can't.