The Damned by Renee Ahdieh {Book Review}

Another 2020 release has come and gone, though this time I’m a little behind. Hopefully it still works since I read it as a “Fall Read”? The Beautiful, and its sequel, The Damned are part of a Paranormal series set in 1870’s New Orleans. If you haven’t read the Beautiful yet, please click here to avoid any spoilers.

Synopsis

The Damned picks up where the Beautiful left off as Celine trades her memories/relationship with Bastien in order to save him. Now a Vampire, Bastien has to learn not only how to adapt to his new lifestyle, but all that he’s lost. Celine on the other hand, feels a void in her life as she tries to carry on after the attack all the while feeling as though everyone is hiding a big secret from her.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

I really loved reading the Beautiful late last year, and just went crazy trying to figure out everything happening in its pages. It turned out to be a solid read, and definitely continued my love for Renee Ahdieh’s work. I also enjoyed this follow up, but I think this one was a mixed bag for me. Maybe it all began with my reading struggles, which have been all over the place thanks to this crazy year, but I’ve needed books to pull me through this and this one slowed me down a bit.

I think one of the reasons I would say this book wasn’t nearly as exciting a read for me as the Beautiful was just the slow build-up in this one. The Beautiful was this mysterious, and intoxicating read as you try to figure out Celine’s past, Bastien, this dark person killing in the night, and the world of New Orleans. It played on that ‘unknown’ that we have in the book, and gives us a clear, and dark answer at the very end. So what did the sequel do? It left us picking up the pieces of its predecessor’s ending, which isn’t necessarily bad. What I struggled with was the timing though. There are chapters and chapters of Bastien as a vampire, struggling with the hunger, newfound abilities, and not being able to see Celine. This is after the first book having a huge focus on Celine, who I’d say I followed POV wise a little easier. In the midst of a year with reading struggles this was just a bit slow for me and harder to really kick drive me reading, hence the rating.

Once I got through and over the slower start I really started to enjoy and fly through this book. For one thing, while the first book focused on keeping the Paranormal at bay and unclear this second novel brought it front and center. We learn more of the vampires of New Orleans, the politics surrounding them and the Werewolves, and other species dwelling in the city. This time around it was as if we were slowly unraveling this other world now that both Bastien and Celine have been truly exposed to it, and I lived for that. I love a good paranormal world caught in our own, and how it all works. I’m honestly hoping there will be more world building, and fleshing out of characters outside the inner New Orleans circle next book since it felt like there was still so much to explore with this.

Another great aspect as the pacing picked up was in character development as we see both Bastien and Celine make choices that are not only hard, but heavily influence their futures. I won’t go into spoilers on this, but the impact of decisions and choice in this story was a great point in my opinion since so much of the beginning for these two is forced on them versus something fully of their own making. I’m really trying my hardest not to go all spoiler crazy while saying characters grew, we found out quite a bit, and the development was on point.

I think overall this was a really good read, and maybe would have gone faster if this year’s reading slump hadn’t been a minefield for me. I’m curious what everyone else thought of this sequel, or if they had the same struggles. I definitely still plan to get the next book, and actually look forward to it since I feel like all the dots will finally be connected. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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