Keep Me Posted!

Sign me up for the latest news from Penguin Teen, including new books, special offers, and promotions.

Read an excerpt of THE BEAUTIFUL by Renée Ahdieh

SHARE

Vampires are making their comeback in just FIVE DAYS, and we’re celebrating with an excerpt! Scroll down to read the first chapter of Renée Ahdieh’s The Beautiful.

The-Beautiful

1st février, 1872
aboard the CGT Aramis

Not What It Seemed

The Aramis was supposed to arrive at first light, like it did in Celine’s dreams.

She would wake beneath a sunlit sky, the brine of the ocean winding through her nose, the city looming bright on the horizon.

Filled with promise. And absolution.

Instead the brass bell on the bow of the Aramis tolled in the twilight hour, the time of day her friend Pippa called “the gloaming.” It was—in Celine’s mind—a very British thing to say.

She’d begun collecting these phrases not long after she’d met Pippa four weeks ago, when the Aramis had docked for two days in Liverpool. Her favorite so far was “not bloody likely.” Celine didn’t know why they mattered to her at the time. Perhaps it was because she thought Very British Things would serve her better in America than the Very French Things she was apt to say.

The moment Celine heard the bell clang, she made her way portside, Pippa’s light footsteps trailing in her wake. Inky tendrils of darkness fanned out across the sky, a ghostly mist shrouding the Crescent City. The air thickened as the two girls listened to the Aramis sluice through the waters of the Mississippi, drawing closer to New Orleans. Farther from the lives they’d left behind.

Pippa sniffed and rubbed her nose. In that instant, she looked younger than her sixteen years. “For all the stories, it’s not as pretty as I thought it would be.”

“It’s exactly what I thought it would be,” Celine said in a reassuring tone.

“Don’t lie.” Pippa glanced at her sidelong. “It won’t make me feel better.”

A smile curled up Celine’s face. “Maybe I’m lying for me as much as I’m lying for you.”

“In any case, lying is a sin.”

“So is being obnoxious.”

“That’s not in the Bible.”

“But it should be.”

Pippa coughed, trying to mask her amusement. “You’re terrible. The sisters at the Ursuline convent won’t know what to do with you.”

“They’ll do the same thing they do with every unmarried girl who disembarks in New Orleans, carrying with her all her worldly possessions: they’ll find me a husband.” Celine refrained from frowning. This had been her choice. The best of the worst.

“If you strike them as ungodly, they’ll match you with the ugliest fool in Christendom. Definitely someone with a bulbous nose and a paunch.”

“Better an ugly man than a boring one. And a paunch means he eats well, so . . .” Celine canted her head to one side.

“Really, Celine.” Pippa laughed, her Yorkshire accent weaving through the words like fine Chantilly lace. “You’re the most incorrigible French girl I’ve ever met.”

Celine smiled at her friend. “I’d wager you haven’t met many French girls.”

“At least not ones who speak English as well as you do. As if you were born to it.”

“My father thought it was important for me to learn.” Celine lifted one shoulder, as though this were the whole of it, instead of barely half. At the mention of her father—a staid Frenchman who’d studied linguistics at Oxford—a shadow threatened to descend. A sadness with a weight Celine could not yet bear. She fixed a wry grin on her face.

Pippa crossed her arms as though she were hugging herself. Worry gathered beneath the fringe of blond on her forehead as the two girls continued studying the city in the distance. Every young woman on board had heard the whispered accounts. At sea, the myths they’d shared over cups of gritty, bitter coffee had taken on lives of their own. They’d blended with the stories of the Old World to form richer, darker tales. New Orleans was haunted. Cursed by pirates. Prowled by scalawags. A last refuge for those who believed in magic and mysticism. Why, there was even talk of women possessing as much power and influence as that of any man.

Celine had laughed at this. As she’d dared to hope. Perhaps New Orleans was not what it seemed, at first glance. Fittingly, neither was she.

And if anything could be said about the young travelers aboard the Aramis, it was that the possibility of magic like this—a world like this—had become a vital thing. Especially for those who wished to shed the specter of their pasts. To become something better and brighter.

And especially for those who wanted to escape.

Pippa and Celine watched as they drew closer to the unknown. To their futures.

“I’m frightened,” Pippa said softly.

Celine did not respond. Night had seeped through the water, like a dark stain across organza. A scraggly sailor balanced along a wooden beam with all the grace of an aerialist while lighting a lamp on the ship’s prow. As if in response, tongues of fire leapt to life across the water, rendering the city in even more ghoulishly green tones.

The bell of the Aramis pealed once more, telling those along the port how far the ship had left to travel. Other passengers made their way from below deck, coming to stand alongside Celine and Pippa, muttering in Portuguese and Spanish, English and French, German and Dutch. Young women who’d taken leaps of faith and left their homelands for new opportunities. Their words melted into a soft cacophony of sound that would—under normal circumstances—soothe Celine.

Not anymore.

Ever since that fateful night amid the silks in the atelier, Celine had longed for comfortable silence. It had been weeks since she’d felt safe in the presence of others. Safe with the riot of her own thoughts. The closest she’d ever come to wading through calmer waters had been in the presence of Pippa.

When the ship drew near enough to dock, Pippa took sudden hold of Celine’s wrist, as though to steel herself. Celine gasped. Flinched at the unexpected touch. Like a spray of blood had shot across her face, the salt of it staining her lips.

“Celine?” Pippa asked, her blue eyes wide. “What’s wrong?”

Breathing through her nose to steady her pulse, Celine wrapped both hands around Pippa’s cold fingers. “I’m frightened, too.”

 

 

Missed last week’s excerpt? Read an excerpt of WAR GIRLS here!

#ShelfGoals

Middle Grade Books by Black Authors You Should Be Reading

  What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado “STAY IN YOUR LANE.” Stephen doesn’t want to hear that–he wants to have no lane.Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s … Continued
See More

9 Books That Make Great Gift Ideas For Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and we know that gift lists for moms are running rampant everywhere. But the best thing about giving books is that you give an experience, too. So we rounded up some of our favorite heartfelt, historical, and humorous books that make great gift ideas for Mother’s Day.   … Continued
See More

Boxsets You Need to Binge

If you’re stuck at home and are officially looking for your next series to binge read, we got you. We’ve rounded up a wish list of our fav bingey boxsets!   John Green: The Complete Collection Box Set Honestly, have tissues on hand. This collection includes paperback editions of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns, … Continued
See More

YA Books by Black Authors You Should Be Reading

From award winning icons such as Mildred D. Taylor to debut voices such as Patrice Caldwell, here are some of the Black authors you should be reading.   A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic. … Continued
See More

14 Books to Read During Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we find that books can not only help us understand or sympathize, but can often help us talk about difficult topics. Here are 15 books to read this month to help start a conversation and #endthestigma.   Turtles All the Way Down by John Green Aza is trying. She is trying … Continued
See More

Dancing at the Pity Party: Sneak Peek!

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder is part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life. From before her mother’s first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler … Continued
See More

The 2020/2021 books you need to add to your TBR ASAP

Did you join us for Penguin Teen’s 2020/2021 preview show? Here are the books we talked about! Scroll down to read about some of our most anticipated reads!   They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman – July 21, 2020 Gossip Girl meets One of Us Is Lying with a dash of The Secret History in this slick, taut murder mystery … Continued
See More

Read an excerpt of THIS COVEN WON’T BREAK

This Coven Won’t Break is hitting shelves next month! We are so excited for the thrilling sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn and are sharing an excerpt in anticipation of book 2. Scroll down to read! High school. They say it’s the best time of our lives. A time of exploration and endless possibilities. We can try … Continued
See More

Excerpt Alert: WE ARE NOT FROM HERE

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez is a poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border, inspired by current events. Scroll down to read an excerpt! PROLOGUE   When you live in a place like this, you’re always planning your escape. Even if you don’t know when you’ll go. Even if … Continued
See More

17 Mystery Books That Will Keep You Guessing

There’s nothing like the adrenaline rush of reading a mystery book, and we’re here to tell you about 17 that will absolutely stump you. Read on for our list of favorite YA mysteries that are ANYTHING but elementary, my dear Watson.   People Like Us by Dana Mele Clue you’ll love it: At Bates Academy, … Continued
See More
BACK TO TOP