The Beautiful and the Cursed, by Page Morgan

Page Morgan is an ambitious woman. Her debut novel The Beautiful and the Cursed features two heroines, a massive cast, a historical setting, a menagerie of supernatural creatures, and an elaborate mythology centered around gargoyles, which (in Morgan's world, anyway) can be both hideous monsters and ridiculously handsome love interests.

Set in 1899, The Beautiful and the Cursed opens as two wealthy young Englishwomen, Ingrid and Gabby Waverly, arrive in Paris. The girls are traveling with their mother, an arts patron who intends to open a gallery in a derelict abbey. Ingrid's twin brother Grayson traveled to France several weeks earlier, but when the family arrives at the abbey they discover he's been missing for days, and the area has been plagued by a rash of recent murders and disappearances. Ingrid and Gabby are determined to find Grayson, but their inept attempts at investigation attract the attention of Paris's supernatural inhabitants, which range from angels to demons to the Dispossessed, a group of living gargoyles who are bound to certain buildings and can take human form.

I've always been fond of the saying “Go big or go home”, but Morgan really should have gone at least a little smaller. This book—the first in a projected trilogy—could have have removed half of its major characters, several minor plot threads, and two supernatural species, and still had enough material left over to fuel several sequels. It's not that any of these elements were handled particularly badly (most were pretty entertaining, although the love triangles were predictable and Morgan struggles with period-appropriate dialogue), but having to wade through so much plot development meant too much of The Beautiful and the Cursed was devoted to exposition, and not enough to organic storytelling and character development.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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