The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan, published by Hot Key Books on 2nd May 2013
Ingrid Waverley is a young woman to be reckoned with. Faced with her brother's mysterious disappearance after an abrupt move to Paris, she is determined to discover what has happened to him. Soon she and her sister Gabriella are drawn into a Parisian underworld more terrifying than they could ever have imagined, but watching over them are two impossible (and impossibly handsome) young men.
I will confess to not knowing much about this book before I picked it up but the cover art grabbed my attention and I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. I was expecting it to be a modern day supernatural story but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the action actually takes place in Paris in 1899. I love the fact that Page Morgan has combined so many different genres which means that historical elements are interweaved with the gothic, alongside touches of romance, fantasy, adventure and the supernatural. There is something to appeal to lots of different readers and I already know I'll be recommending this to several of my friends.
The story opens with two sisters, Ingrid and Gabby, arriving with their mother at a rundown Abbey in Paris. The Abbey is particularly intimidating because of the grotesque gargoyles which adorn it's exterior. Shortly after their arrival, they discover that their brother Grayson has gone missing. Determined to find him, they stumble across secrets which have long been kept hidden and a world which they never knew existed.
I was excited about the fact that gargoyles feature in the story. I knew very little about them prior to reading this book, so it was great to see gargoyle lore being explored. I loved Page Morgan's interpretation of them and the way that she gave them real character so you ended up seeing them as much more than just stone statues.
The opening of the book immediately piqued my interest and although I was only planning to read a few chapters, I found myself absorbed in the sisters' adventures. Although the pace slowed slightly in the middle, it picked up again at the end, which was truly exciting and gripping.
This was an intriguing start to the series and will appeal enormously to readers who are perhaps getting tired of vampires, zombies and ghosts and looking for something a little different. The second book in the series will be called 'The Sweet and the Savage'.