The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Published: May 2013
Genre: young adult, gothic, paranormal
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.
Lady Ingrid and Lady Gabriella Waverly travel to Paris with their mother to help her set up an art gallery in an old, abandoned abbey they now have to call home. Upon their arrival, they are disturbed to find Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, missing. The staff seem unconcerned, but Ingrid and Gabby are determined to find him. Luc, a servant on edge the second he lays eyes on Ingrid, is the only one who hints of knowing Grayson’s whereabouts. As Ingrid and Gabby explore Paris and forge friendships with an American shopkeeper and rough Scotsman, they begin to discover a world of angels, demons, and gargoyles, and the foreboding connection between the fantastic and the recently murdered girls in Paris.
An incredibly original idea and brilliant début. This book felt like Hunchback of Notre Dame meets Beauty and the Beast meets The Mortal Instruments meets Paradise Lost meets anything Wilkie Collins could write if he’d thought of writing fantasy. The whole concept of gargoyles being the protectors of humans on earth to do angels’ bidding is remarkable — and yet, so obvious. Of course gargoyles are humans’ protectors: they can be seen adorning every ancient holy building in Europe. They adorn the structures to keep evil out, to keep the demons away. And that is the premise of this novel. Brilliant.
I especially liked that each chapter peeked into individual characters’ minds while other characters were out experiencing something else. There’s a scene where Gabby is out in Paris alone and a turn of events happens for her; meanwhile, Ingrid is discovering the truth from Luc; meanwhile, Grayson is somewhere dark and in pain. Occasionally scenes will overlap and the reader experiences it through a different character’s perspective, which is very exciting. That being said, I’m thrilled this was written in the third person subjective. A writer could have easily made the point of view in first person, but having the third person subjective allows the reader to not only feel what the character feels (like in first person) but also see all the vivid descriptions that no first person narrative would naturally describe. Each character had a specific tone and voice to their sections as well.
On that note, I loved the complexity of each character. Gabby, though a bit snobbish and self-centered in the beginning, grew to be a fighter and determined to prove herself. She’d always felt overshadowed by her twin siblings and their deep connection to one another. The opportunities the events in this novel give her allow her to become who she’s always wanted to be: strong and independent. She’s very feisty, too , and I loved her interactions with Nolan, the Scot. Luc is a deeply troubled character, with such conflicting and opposing feelings, a brilliant epitome of an anti-hero. He’s corrupt yet moral, disturbed yet honorable. I felt the most for Ingrid, her private and patient ways, her loyalty and determination, and above all her deeply wounded heart. Her heartbreak is not melodramatic, like many young adult novels accidentally portray.
This is a must-read.