Book review: Beautiful Creatures by Lulu Taylor

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The mysterious Beaufort twins, Octavia and Flora, have spent most of their 21 years out of the public eye...everyone has heard of them but few have seen them.

Now the stage is set for the beautiful sisters to make a spectacular entrance, particularly with a £284m fortune waiting in the wings.

At the stroke of midnight, the identical twins literally step out into the spotlight – the world is at their feet. There’s everything to gain, and everything to lose.

Lulu Taylor’s new blockbuster might sound like a glitzy, modern-day fairytale but there’s a vein of ugliness running through this high society drama that gives the story an injection of edgy realism.

She provides plenty of glamour, travel, shopping, sex and bitching but there are also unexpected plot twists and harsh truths at its heart.

Handsome heroes are not all they’re cracked up to be, jealousy can be dangerously destructive and money, as we all know, is not guaranteed to bring happiness.

Octavia and Flora Beaufort have been raised in strict and sinister seclusion by their aunt Frances Staunton and her brigadier husband since their father died and their mother walked out on them.

Their lavish coming-out party marks a new beginning for them both; they have the freedom and the money to leave behind Homerton House in Somerset and head for the bright lights of London.

For headstrong and confident Octavia, it’s a dream come true; a chance to join the wild round of parties, launches, openings, fashion shows and clubs.

For shy, stammering Flora, it feels like being pushed from an aeroplane without a parachute; her home and stability have been swept away, leaving her feeling lost and alone.

While Octavia shops till she drops and attracts a host of shallow followers, Flora falls into the arms of a stranger who rescues her from muggers in the back streets of the city.

Both naïve in their very different ways, Octavia makes powerful enemies who determine to ‘bring her down a peg or two’ and Flora marries the eccentric German baron Otto von Schwetten in her desperate search for security.

Without realising it, the once inseparable sisters have lost sight of each other while their lives have become a terrifying struggle.

Taylor paints a vivid picture of the jet-set lifestyle with all its high-octane, ‘spend, spend, spend’ frenzy and creates a line-up of louche hangers-on whose friendships are as fleeting as a night on the town.

Beautiful Creatures is heady escapism with a gritty edge.

(Arrow, paperback, £6.99)