Fairytale -schmairytale lovers! For you, the story I read a few days back. Turns out, I can’t really make up mind on this one and my grumpy self doesn’t like disliking books. For the most part. Really. Truly, It’s not like I’ve ever deliberately set myself up for bad-reads. I mean, okay there might have a few of those times with Fallen and Twilight and Vain and… But I digress. My point being, I hope you find this book more to your liking than I did.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s just as well that I didn’t remember my past mishaps with Stacey Jay when I picked up this one. Or perhaps it’d have been better if I had and shunned it. Of Beast and Beauty certainly isn’t a book that I’d recommend you to drop in heat and stay away from; quite the opposite, if you like you retellings with a bit of darkness and lots of imagination, but no real terror, this should be your next read. My failure to enjoy the book rests solely on my heightened, and mayhap misplaced, expectations.
With Of Beast and Beauty, Stacey Jay has tried to stuff and incorporate lots of variegated elements. At the end of the story, however, not all go along in a complementary fashion. retelling, fantasy world, racial problems and oh, look- a bit of sci-fi! I’m not kidding and also, I’d have loved for that hidden story to be revealed. Whereas, all they drop is that humans destroyed their planet and came to this new world in ships, and as it turns out, one of those ships is right there in Isra’s(our MC) city, brought by her very own mother. And do we get anymore? DO WE? Nope, the flying ships will remain constrained to the past.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
There are two races of humans- ones that gave in to evolution and have become the Desert People/Monstrous and ones that his in glass houses called the Smooth Skins. Isra is a blind, captive princess in the domed city of Yuan. Turns out, Yuan is shielded by super-duper, alchemical glass from the lethal UV rays of the sun. Gem’s one of the Desert People and somehow or the other, he becomes a captive of the captive princess.
But let’s already get ahead of ourselves! I’m bored.
The writing starts out… a bit tough to digest. At least for the first few chapters. But moving on, it simplifies and toned down to, at times, the simple melodies of traditional fairytales, but mostly gorgeous enough. That said, the epilogue was written fabulously, albeit it diverted more than slightly from the flow of the whole book and possibly the reason I like it so much.
The only character I *liked*(using the term lightly) was Isra. She’s a passive and innocent queen for quite a while, letting herself be played like a marionette. Eventually, she grows into a somewhat more capable person. But she has a slight case of being too heavily dependent on Gem for changing. All her transformations, and developments, come through Gem’s words and mostly because of him, and I’ll have you know right here that I didn’t like him. I’d have liked to observe her in her own domain. Moreover, for all her talks of proving herself to her people, she never does accomplish that.
Gem wasn’t to my taste. Too self-righteous and bland. Apart from that, he doesn’t grow as a character much, not in my book. The romance between the two characters also felt forced and hasty to me, at least on Gem’s part. Where Isra is concerned, I got a feel of genuine warmth and affection.
The third character, Bo, had my appreciation for he was truly complex and excellently crafted. On the other hand, his perspective was conducive not to the overall story, but the plot itself and that puts the Gus in a grumpy mood, for the plot… lost……me………somewhere…………along……………the………………long…………………simple, repetitive……………………way.
It was in the vein of the original tale, with love and a kiss to heal all and not to spoil the book or anything, but it ended in SUCH a Disney movie fashion.
There were some other courtly, dangerous things but it all came down to the above.
Besides all that, I appreciated the world-building and the social structure, until Valerian and humankind’s history of the future* were dropped and that’s when I stopped buying it for real.
Now for the spoilery(not really) section of things I absolutely didn’t like. Please skip if you intend to read the book for I won’t be putting it in spoiler tags because despite all its shortcomings, the B&B Disney movie does have some pretty gifs.
So does this book do justice to the beloved fairytale? Ehh, I was never really fond of that one, so I can’t judge that for you. But I CAN tell you that was so damn good in the beginning with the blindness and the darkness that all I can manage for now is be my monotonous Cogsworth self, waxing on poetically and professionally about potential like a good(just kidding), old mustache-curling, student-failing headmaster/mistress.
*I want that book, I want it so bad since I woke up I can’t BEAR IT!
Shoooooooooooo? You like it? Thinking of buying it? Maybe checking out other reviews?