Read a full summary of The Beautiful, book #1 of Renee Ahdieh’s new series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in The Beautiful, then you are in the right place!
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in The Beautiful?
Celine sails across the Atlantic, leaving her father and her terrible secret behind in France. She lands in New Orleans with her new friend Pippa. They and the other girls aboard the ship will live and work at a local convent.
Celine doesn’t have a skill that’s readily transferrable to convent life like some of the other girls, so she ends up trying to sell handmade handkerchiefs at an open-air market in town. They are quite beautiful because Celine was studying under one of the best seamstresses in France before she left for America.
Celine is afraid she’s not going to make a single sale the whole day when a gorgeous girl named Odette comes along and purchases the whole lot. She recognizes the quality and asks about Celine’s training. When she hears about who Celine trained under, Odette insists Celine make her next dress. She needs something exquisite for the upcoming masquerade ball.
Celine gets the outing cleared with the Mother Superior at the convent. That evening, she and Pippa set out for the address Odette provided. Along the way, they witness two men attacking someone. Celine is bold and steps in to help the victim. One of the abusers is Sabastien (aka Bastien), the handsome young man who caught her eye when her ship first docked in New Orleans. There’s a chemistry between the two of them even though she wishes there wasn’t.
Celine and Pippa finally make it to their destination and are surprised to find it’s a restaurant called Jacques’. They find the manager and ask after Odette. He takes them to an exclusive room upstairs. They’re surprised to find it full of gamblers, male and female alike. All of them seem to possess the same unearthly beauty of Odette and Bastien.
The girls notice some oddities, and Odette admits everyone here has a secret. They all possess magic of some sort. They ask about Odette’s gift. When Celine hears that she can read a person’s future with a single touch, she’s afraid Odette might’ve somehow glimpsed her past, too. Odette says she didn’t see anything clearly when she touched Celine in the market earlier that day.
Bastien appears. As much as she wishes it wouldn’t, Celine’s attraction to him grows every minute she’s in his presence. The two banter back and forth for some time until their conversation is interrupted by a scream.
Someone has been murdered just outside the room they’re in. Celine is shocked to see it’s Annabelle, another girl from the convent. She thinks the Mother Superior must have sent her to spy on Celine and Pippa. And now she’s dead.
Soon the local police and Michael, a renowned young detective, show up to question everyone. Celine is afraid he’ll uncover the murder in her background if he digs too deep. She knows he’ll discover the victim is from the same convent as Celine and Pippa, too. Even though they’re innocent of this crime, Celine would like to be able to get her story straight with Pippa before they’re questioned.
After Celine speaks up, the detective reluctantly lets the two girls go home before they worry the Mother Superior too much with their extended absence. He says he’ll come by the convent tomorrow to question them.
Before the detective arrives to question Celine and Pippa, Arjun shows up. Bastien has sent his best friend to act as their legal counsel. At first, Celine believes it’s just a nice gesture. This irritates her because she doesn’t want to accept anything from Bastien. Once Michael arrives to question them, Celine quickly realizes that the gesture of sending Arjun is all for Bastien’s benefit, to make sure they don’t implicate him in any of their answers.
At church the next day, Odette extends an invitation to Celine to join her back at Jacques’ to work on the details of her dress. Bastien comes up behind them, and Odette tries to get him to compliment Celine on how pretty she looks. He only comments on the color of her dress.
Bastien is spending time with Ash, the grandson of New Orlean’s mayor. Bastien actually despises Ash’s personality and behavior, but he likes to have powerful friends with pull. But then the meeting goes wrong, and some of Bastien’s friends descend and kill the young man.
Odette invites Celine to dinner at Jacques’ to discuss her dress further. Even having grown up in Paris, it’s the best meal Celine has ever had. Their conversation steers to Bastien, and Odette has Celine repeat a line that she says about his good looks. Just as the words leave Celine’s lips for a second time, she realizes Bastien has entered the room and heard the whole thing.
Celine is embarrassed and wants to get out of Jacques’ as soon as possible. She insists on walking home alone despite Odette’s protests. Celine is followed by something that seems to fly away when she turns to see who it is. Then the creature reappears, and Bastien saves her from it. They embrace and almost kiss.
Celine is too shaken to immediately go home to her room in the dark convent, so Bastien offers to take her to the Mardi Gras-style parade. She loves it. They enjoy each other’s company and end up exchanging partial truths about their pasts. They each admit they’re attracted to the other. Celine knows they’re not what the other one needs or what they should even want, so she lets Bastien know that they should just be friends.
Pippa provides a midnight snack and another candle for Celine to continue her work. Pippa paints while Celine sews tirelessly to get Odette’s dress done in time for the ball. Pippa shares that she knows Celine is hiding some sin from her past, but she wants her new friend to know that everyone deserves forgiveness and redemption. Celine is very grateful for Pippa’s friendship.
A supernatural intruder kills the gardener, and Celine feels cursed because so many around her have died.
The Mother Superior tells Celine that the sisters decided they need to find somewhere else for her to stay in light of what’s happened since she arrived. But they won’t send Celine away until they find a new home for her. Pippa wants to help her find new lodging, too, but Celine says she’d rather make inquiries for herself.
Michael and Odette arrive, each with an offer to help Celine find a new place.
Celine wants to stay in Nicodemus’s old hotel and try to bait the killer with her lone presence. Michael hates the idea. Odette thinks it over carefully, and Celine can tell by her expression that she knows more than she’s letting on. Celine thinks everyone at the Court of Lions might be hiding things, in fact. Celine decides to question Bastien tomorrow as he’s the one person who might admit the truth to her.
Celine sends word to Bastien that she’d like to meet with him. He responds with a simple ‘no,’ and Celine is furious. She accepts the invitation to a soirée from Odette that she had previously declined so she can confront Bastien in person. Odette helps her secure a dress. Celine has to modify it a bit for her figure.
After three hours, Bastien still hasn’t arrived at the party. Then Celine catches sight of Pippa on the arm of a man who has showed some interest in her. Celine doesn’t want to be connected with her friend in public, potentially putting her in more danger than she might already be in for even knowing Celine. Just as she’s turning to leave, Bastien and Arjun arrive in costume.
Pippa notices Celine as she converses with Bastien and his friends and heads toward her. Celine turns to escape the room and the greeting, terrified Pippa will eventually be hurt.
Even though Bastien was aloof in the midst of the party, he follows Celine into the garden maze she escapes to. They overhear girls looking for and talking about Bastien. They both always seem to be targets of one sort or another, so they head back to Nicodemus’s place. They kiss, and it almost goes further until Celine sees a severed arm and head. It’s Nigel. He’s dead.
Celine will now stay in the police station to be safe. She’s supposed to meet Bastien per a note he sent her. He says he’ll find her wherever she chooses to be at midnight.
Celine meets Michael’s nonna and cousin Luca. She loves how Nonna speak to Michael as if he’s still a child. The four of them have an awkward conversation over soup that Nonna made for her. It’s obvious that Michael likes her and is trying to discern her feelings for him.
Celine sneaks out of the station at midnight to meet Bastien. She’s met by his Uncle Nicodemus and a host of the Court of Lions members instead. Nicodemus says she must reject Bastien. He says she’s no good for him and love is only a weapon that can be used against him. If Celine does as he asks, Nicodemus will grant her anything she asks, one time only. If she disobeys him, he says he’ll make sure she’s utterly alone.
Celine manages to finish Odette’s dress. She delivers it to Jacques’ but has to leave it at the front door because she’s no longer allowed inside at Nicodemus’s bidding. She also completes the dress she’s reconstructed for herself.
Celine still has a plan to catch whoever has been after her. She dons the new dress and heads to the masquerade ball. Nicodemus asks her to dance to inquire about her decision regarding his offer. She has three fake requests: She wants a furnished apartment, a dress shop to earn a living, and to be the one to tell Bastien in person.
Pippa comes to talk to Celine while she waits for Nicodemus to send Bastien out to the balcony. Everyone suddenly clears out of the balcony area for a reason unforeseen to Celine. Her neck is bitten, and she’s stolen away.
Bastien knows something is wrong when he approaches an empty balcony. He finds Odette and asks her to cover for him for an hour while he searches for Celine. Even though it violates her covenant to Nicodemus, she agrees.
Bastien starts at the police station. He and Michael have a run-in, but Bastien soon learns Michael has no idea where Celine is.
Celine awakes on an altar at the Saint Louis Cathedral with her hands and feet bound. She’s surprised to feel the dagger Bastien gave her still tucked in her bodice. Her captor reveals himself. It’s Nigel, who she thought had been murdered. He says murdering Bastien will be the last step of a long process, to finally do away with the Saint Germain family. And she’s the bait he needs to draw Bastien to him.
Celine asks what Nigel is. He says he thought she’d never ask. He changes before her eyes, becoming a vampire right there in the cathedral. He licks the wound on her neck.
That’s when Bastien enters with a revolver drawn. This is exactly what Nigel has been waiting for. He will kill Celine unless Bastien drops his weapon. He bites her neck again for good measure, licking at the blood. Celine signals to Bastien that she still has the dagger. When Bastien lowers his weapon, Nigel lowers Celine to the ground. When her toes hit the floor, she whips around to stab Nigel in the neck with the dagger repeatedly.
How did The Beautiful end?
Bastien and Nigel begin to scuffle, and Bastien ends up mortally wounded. Nigel escapes just as Nicodemus and members of the Court of Lions begin arriving.
Celine begs Nicodemus to save Bastien, but there’s only one way he can: by turning his nephew into a vampire like he and the whole Court of Lions is. He doesn’t want to curse Bastien this way. Celine says she’ll do anything, even let Nicodemus wipe her memory of Bastien and everyone associated with him like Nicodemus had suggested before.
Celine awakes with Michael by her side. She’s confused and seemingly missing recent memories. Some of them associated with Michael come back, but there are holes in other areas.
There have short asides scattered throughout the story from the POV of Nicodemus’s mortal enemy. It turns out to be Emily, Bastien’s sister who was slain ten years ago. She had to sacrifice her life for her little brother and hates her family now. She thinks there’s no way their uncle would’ve turned Bastien into a vampire since he refused to turn her years ago. Someone else had to save her in a different way. Emily is a werewolf. She plans enlist the help of the boy who loved her before she died: Michael’s cousin Luca. He’s a werewolf, too.
Epilogue: “First there was nothing. Then…there was everything.” [I assume this is Bastien awaking as a vampire.]
Oh and share this with your friends who might like to read a recap of The Beautiful.