The Treachery of Beautiful Things Book Review

The trees had swallowed Tom whole.

-pg 3

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long 

It’s been a long time since I’ve reviewed a book, I know. But it’s been even longer since I last read one. I don’t know why but they’re a lot harder to come by in college. Also, I’m just waiting on a lot of books to be released?

Okay so anyways, in this book a girl named Jenny and her older brother Tom are walking by some woods while Tom coaxes some rad tunes out of his flute. His masterful playing attracts some wicked folk and, like the quote says, the woods gobble him up. Jenny goes home and tries to explain this to her mother. She is called crazy, of course, and several psychiatrists later, she is kinda starting to believe that this was all some weird dream. But then one day she hears Tom’s radical music snaking out from the same ol’ woods that swallowed him. Jenny (she’s a bright girl) decides to follow the music see if she can find Tom and bring him home. This plan, of course, does not go well.

So Jenny’s wandering through the woods gettin’ into all kinds of trouble when Jack, a guardian of the divide between the faerie world and the human world, finds her. Initially he wants to get her out of his woods but then he decides she’s kinda hot and also he strikes some deals with various forest kings and queens and he ends up accompanying Jenny on her hunt for Tom.

Jack and Jenny share narration of the story. Jenny is very average. I can’t really say that there was anything outstanding about her except that she can’t stand firm with her beliefs to save her life. The number of times she changed her mind about how she felt towards Jack was killer. And I don’t mean I love him/I don’t love him flip-flopping. But like, he’s good/he’s evil. Seriously, Jenny. He wasn’t that deep. Obviously he wasn’t a bad dude.

As for Jack, he is initially someone you want to hang out with because he’s got a cool job (guarding the edge). He reminded me a bit of Peter Pan. Immortal. Young. Probably hot. The author makes him especially dreamy by having him pine for his freedom by tying wishes, in the form of white strips of cloth, onto a tree.


Jenny falls for this. Their romance isn’t overly saccharine, but it is obvious. Even when the odds are stacked against them, it’s hardly a question of  will they be together but when. I’ll admit, though, I thought it was cute. Nothing special, but cute.

Okay got a little distracted there. Back to Jack’s character. He’s you’re typical immortal forest guardian, though as the story goes on he gets a little dreary. I’m not a fan of characters who agonize over decisions they’ve made (the Do I Help Jenny decision). I mean, I understand a little regret, and I suppose if the character was anal-retentive this would have made sense. But it did not line up with the personality that was already established. What made this particular trait more frustrating was that the story never really explained what the negative repercussions were for helping Jenny, or breaking one of his many allegiances, which begs the question, why agonize over them? Moreover, it never fully explained the roles of those people with whom he had those allegiances. Are you getting confused? Well, now you understand me while I was reading this book.

The rest of the story follows suit. It had some really cool mythology lingering on the sides and an interesting concept, but was bogged down by the romantic aspects, which tended to take center stage more than they should have, an unnecessarily twisty plot, and excessive description. I  remember there was this part towards the end, where Jenny was trying to save the day, and I honestly had no idea what was going on. There were lots of boxes? And hundreds of Jacks? I mean, my understanding was really a moot point anyways since I’d already guessed what was going to happen. I’m not saying this not as some cocky book-psychic. I don’t want to come off as elitist or all knowing (though I am both). (No I’m kidding; I’m not.) I’m just trying to make a point that there was some good source material here and that it did not live up to its full potential; instead it got confusing and predictable.

And the plot. It was doing leaps and tumbles and going places when I just wanted it to follow a path. There were quests and then quests within quests, which, lemme say, I am not a fan of. Like, calm down Mckayla Maroney; I’m not going to dock you points for a linear plot. Sometimes simple, especially when you have a strong setting and mythology to draw on, is better.

I just re-read this review and realized I never mentioned Tom, Jenny’s brother, again. I wish I could fix this but what to say? I have no idea what happened to him.

Basically, this book had me thinking it was going to be a wicked romp through some traditional (and maybe unexplored) mythology. It started off quite well– the writing purely in terms of words was good– but as the book wore on, reading it became more laborious and while I didn’t lose interest per se, I definitely lost patience. It became confusing and the end was so terribly predictable that I can’t even call it satisfying. It had such potential! And sometimes that’s a worse taste than something obviously mundane.

Ri’s Rating:


0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.