Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan -- ADVISABLE

Morgan, Page The Beautiful and the Cursed, 341 pgs. Random House Children's Books, 2013. $18.99. Language: PG-13 (92 swear words, although technically 80+ of them refer to hell as a place instead of as a swear since demons are involved; no 'f'); Violence: PG-13; Mature Content: PG-13.

In 1899 Ingrid and her sister Gabby move to Paris to escape a humiliating past, but when they show up nothing is as they had expected. Their new home is an abandoned abbey with creepy gargoyles ringing the roof. A city-wide curfew is in place to protect girls from a recent series of violent and unexplained murders. A mysterious servant with arresting eyes seems abnormally interested in them. Worst of all, Ingrid's twin brother, who had arrived early to prepare the abbey for their presence, has disappeared. Searching for Grayson is dangerous, but Ingrid and Gabby aren't the type to sit at home and wait, even in a city where mishaps are not only tinged with violence, but with a sense of the otherworldly.

With its gorgeous and evocative description, historical setting, and sense of impending doom, this carefully-spun tale has the feel of a gothic horror novel, with some tantalizing hints at future romance woven in. Ingrid and Gabby are both strong characters, and they grow well throughout the novel. While the ending has some wonderful twists and a suspenseful climax, several unresolved threads will clearly be carried into the sequel.

HS -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

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