Morning mortals! Adding another title to the year of ALL THE RETELLINGS (at the time of writing I’m at eleven) is The Beast’s Heart which publishes on the 3rd of May 2018. I was lucky enough to be sent a physical ARC from the publisher and I’m delighted to share my thoughts with you.
Content note: Attempted Suicide
I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.
I am the Beast.
The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.
My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.
My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.
And now I might lose her forever.
This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, obviously, but from the perspective of the Beast. I can see why this is a good way to go since it can go some way into removing the creepiness of this story. Because, let’s face it, a beast keeping a girl captive in a magical castle until they fall in love is hard to make non-creepy. But I think, for the most part, this book achieved it’s aims. I certainly warmed up to the Beast character as the book went on and, while the love story can feel a little contrived at times, so does almost every fairytale love story, so I can’t really fault this book on that note.
I do spend a lot of time on this blog critiquing books that have romance in them, often because it doesn’t serve the purpose of the plot. In this case I’m not going to do that, simply because Beauty and the Beast is at it’s heart (no pun intended) a romance. It was actually refreshing to read a YA fantasy novel that was deliberately a romance. Perhaps it’s having the time and the freedom to really build and explore the relationship that makes it so much better than the age-old:
‘I’m just a plain Jane but doesn’t that mysterious stranger who happens to be on this quest look dreamy?’
This book is written from a first-person perspective (that of the Beast) and it’s quite an archaic voice. I thought this was, paradoxically, quite refreshing, since I’ve been reading quite a lot of books opting for a ‘trendier’ voice. What I will say is that this book manages to capture the ancient quality of fairytale without going into the waffle-y vague voice that I tend to associate with some short stories and retellings.
I also loved the fact that this book was more than one story rolled into one. This is achieved through the Beast watching Isabeau’s family through a magic mirror. That in itself was a little odd (my only problem with this book is how voyeuristic it is at times) but meant that there was the opportunity to bring in more characters, more plot and more of the world at large, in a story that would otherwise have two speaking characters.
This story felt like a definitive move away from the disney movie plot without totally disregarding those elements that are at the heart of this story. While I will always love the disney film, it was nice to read something about Beauty and the Beast without talking furniture or anything that could be merchandised.
I had a wonderful time reading this book, I think that if you’re the kind of person who lives and breathes fairytale retellings you will most certainly enjoy this book. It’s a great addition to any YA fantasy lover’s shelf.
My rating: 5/5 stars
By the way, I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? What are some of your favourite retellings? Let me know in the comments below!