A review by notoriousesr
Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

dark mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


When the unnamed narrator of Natural Beauty, a former piano prodigy, gets offered a plum sales job at a health beauty boutique, she thinks she can finally pay for her parents’ care facility. But not everything at Holistik is what it seems.

This book was a good debut, but it certainly felt like a debut. I thought it had a lot to say about race, beauty, heritage, and exploitation, but sometimes it felt too obvious. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it--it was a pretty good literary horror book! It’s creepy, gross, and intelligent, and nothing about the main character felt wasted or irrelevant. Huang also did a great job of continuously upping the stakes and putting our naive protagonist in increasingly difficult and complicated situations. However, some of the arc felt a bit rushed, especially for how eerie the set up was, and the climax could’ve benefited from being a bit longer. I might need to re-read it to catch everything, but there were also some things that felt underexplained to me that I won’t put here; I don’t want to spoil anything! It’s still a good, suspenseful read. Overall, Natural Beauty is 3.5 out of 5 face creams.