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THE DAMNED by Renée Ahdieh – double review!

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

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.

Title : The Damned
Author : Renée Ahdieh
Series : The Beautiful #2
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 456
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : July 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★.5 /

Micky’s 4.5 star review

Damn but that was good (see what I did there). THE DAMNED utilised all that world-building from book one and just pressed launch. This read was full to the brim of vampiric content and I came to love these characters so much more in this installment. It was an exciting read from cover to cover with a reasonably fast-pace, peppered with lulls to catch your breath.

Sometimes when a book is really good, I highlight and highlight text but with THE DAMNED, I forgot about highlighting, I was that absorbed. The characters I’d come to like from THE BEAUTIFUL became characters I loved and of course, Bastien and Celine were central to this. With that ending to THE BEAUTIFUL, you just know that the world was a confusing place for both these characters at the start of this book.

The story was complex and cleverly woven, but some of the confusion I felt in book one was not a factor in this book. That previous world building paved the way for the characters and different beings to play out with ease. There were so many unexpected factors and plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. I enjoyed particularly the Wyld and the Vale components to the story.

This book /series has delicious side characters and Odette continued to float my boat and I enjoyed getting to know Jae, Ahrun and even Nicodemus better. Pippa had some low level involvement but I see more from her to come.

The chemistry between Bastien and Celine was like a vampire sizzling in the hot sun (snort). These two had a journey and I had no idea where it was going to end up. I will say that Bastien was the kind of hero I could get on board with.

“Do you wish you could make this decision for me?”
“I do. More than I care to admit.”
“Then why have you given me the choice, against this inclination?
“Because I should not make your story about me.”

THE DAMNED blew book one out of the water for me. It gave me all the vampire I wanted and needed and a story to grip consistently. I want more from this series and the end indicates that’s the case.

Thank you to Hodder Books for the early review copy.

Hollis’ 1.5 star review

So my biggest take-away is : you mean to tell me this isn’t a duology? Siiiiiigh.

Appropos of said realization was the fact that I could not understand how this sequel fit in that two-book wrap up. I felt we took such a dramatic turn from the lack of worldbuilding in book one to overdosing on it, but not in a good or helpful way, in book two that the whole pacing and feel of this world was just.. off. Not to mention, did we have this many POVs in book one? That threw me off, too. Particularly because I wasn’t having fun with any of them..

Most of these issues are clearly my own fault for not understanding this was a series, not a duology, but I’m still not satisfied. I genuinely feel like nothing about this fit. We either have lots of nothing or lots of everything and no middle ground. But then there is also a whole host of secondary characters with their own set of problems (and, if you’re Odette in one of the early chapters, a whole monologue of speaking aloud to.. no one) we’re supposed to apparently care about — which I feel is unrealistic given their page time — and then.. the villain? That whole element/plot/evil plan? I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ll probably read the final (please tell me this is only a trilogy and nothing more..) because hashtag completionist but wow what a disappointment. I mean, it’s not like I had been a huge fan of THE BEAUTIFUL, I only rated it a three for the potential, but I guess I expected better or at least something on par with that. Not.. this. Guess middle book syndrome strikes again.

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