ARC Review: Hideous Beauty

Hideous Beauty is a brilliant new YA thriller from William Hussey. It is a mixture of dark page-turning mystery and sweet LGBTQ+ love story. Be prepared for William Hussey to tear your heart right out of your chest and stomp all over it, because he will, and you will thank him for it after.

I managed to read this book before release because I won a proof copy in a prize draw at YALC 2019. The team at Usborne informed me of the win a few months later and sent it in the post with a copy of the press release which has a great letter from the author on the back. As a thank you, the least I can do is post this (spoiler-free) review!

Trigger warning/content note: this book deals with difficult themes including grief, drug use, trauma, physical and sexual abuse, and cancer. Please read with caution.

Hideous Beauty follows the story of Dylan McKee and Ellis Bell as they are forced to make their relationship public after a video is leaked online. They are met with acceptance and even some whoops and cheers from their classmates, but their happiness won’t last for long…


The world of Hideous Beauty is a bizarre kind of transatlantic YA mashup, with a combination of distinctly British and distinctly American elements – a bit like Netflix’s Sex Education. And like that hit TV show, it works really well to create this slightly nostalgic, slightly alien YA wonderland.

The characterisation is fantastic and each character has a strong and unique voice. Within a few lines of dialogue or a brief description from our protagonist Dylan, you get a feel for each character pretty quickly. Dylan’s narrative voice is very believable as an insecure nerdy teenager and, as such, is painfully relatable for anyone who’s been there (me). The writing style is easily digestible like any good thriller, and makes this book one you can devour pretty quickly. I’m a slow reader who is easily distracted, so finishing this book in 5 days was record time for me.

The structure of the novel is really tight and consistent – there is no detail that doesn’t need to be there. Every moment, every look and gesture, adds value to the story. Meanwhile, the mystery keeps you guessing and turning the page, with subtle clues and hints sprinkled expertly throughout. The excellent pacing of the plot makes it impossible to get bored of this book.

This tragic and mysterious love story will have you on the edge of your seat, staying up at night just to see what happens next. If you liked One Of Us Is Lying, then you’ll definitely enjoy Hideous Beauty.

Hideous Beauty by William Hussey is due to be released on 28th May 2020. You can pre-order your copy here.

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