The Damned by Renée Ahdieh – sequel to the Beautiful – is a magical tale of fey, vampires and romance set in historical New Orleans with some crossovers to the world of the fey. This series is especially close to my heart for two reasons. First, Renée brought back vampires and vampire romance to YA fiction in a completely unique way, and second, the concept of vampires being a type of fey also appears in my own book. I enjoyed The Beautiful, but I wouldn’t have called it outstanding. The Damned on the other hand, delivered beyond its promise.
The Damned Review
Do not read this review unless you’ve read the Beautiful. It’s impossible to talk about the sequel without spoiling the first book. So yes, there are the Beautiful spoilers ahead.
The Damned starts off straight after the events of the Beautiful showing us Sébastien grappling with his new reality. He’d never wanted to become a vampire, but Celine made the choice for him rather than letting him die. She also chose to forget him, but as expected, that doesn’t mean their path will never cross again.
Let me say it here how much I adore Bastien’s point of view. Sébastien Saint Germain is one of the most complex, flawed yet lovable character I’ve read in the recent months. He becomes the primary point of view character for the rest of the book, even though we see others pop up. And he is amazing, engaging and heartbreaking at the same time. I was sucked into this book even faster than I expected.
Of course, Celine is right there at the top as the second most significant character, but it felt that she and Sebastian switched places in terms of lead character, and I’m not complaining.
One of my issues with the Beautiful was that it felt a bit forced when it came to “strong women” stereotypes and “women’s rights”. While I loved the theme as much as I loved the story, it felt off balance. Celine was strong and struggled with some serious issues, which came across clearly from the story. The extra analysis in the book was unnecessary. You know that feeling when a book is trying to make a point so hard that the story gets lost? That’s how I felt with The Beautiful sometimes. The theme would have been so much more impactful if it was only shown and not explained.
What helped me get over it is that I still adored Celine as a character, and all her struggles felt real. That’s still the case in The Damned, but the execution is better.
Then we’ve got a few other point of view characters, but they are all very much secondary. Personally, I’m not sure their point of view is needed, but they all deliver relevant and interesting scenes, so it didn’t bother me much.
Setting, plot and romance
I adored the setting of the Beautiful. I mean, who wouldn’t love historical New Orleans for a supernatural story? It’s pure perfection. So when the Damned goes on and crosses into the realms of the fey with even more magic, it’s just pleasure overload. I can’t praise the creativity of these settings enough.
The Damned takes the relationship between Bastien and Celine to a very different territory, keeping the readers on the edge of their seats. Yes, the romance is still as adorable as you can expect after the Beautiful, but the stakes are getting higher, the environment significantly more hostile, the creatures even more cunning and just as deadly.
Overall, the Damned raises the Beautiful series to a whole new level and I can’t wait for the next book. Let’s not forget that Renee’s writing style is so stunningly lyrical that it’s always a pleasure to read her words. This book delivered everything I expected and more.
Looking for more great reviews?
Check out my review of Havenfall here.