- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (9 Dec. 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385743211
- ISBN-13: 978-0385743211
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21 cm
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 700,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Of Beast and Beauty Paperback – 9 Dec 2014
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School Library Journal, August 2013:
"A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy."
"The romance in this book is as lush, wild and thorny as the magic roses that protect the doomed city of Yuan! This re-imagined version of classic Beauty and the Beast is all the more addicting because the two man characters are misfits who slowly develop their love through shared goals, secret whispers and intense chemistry." From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
STACEY JAY is the author of the popular Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed and several other books for young adults. She lives in California with her family.
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Of Beast and Beauty is a good book which is hard to fit into one category as it has both fantasy and sci-fi elements. It is fast paced and I was hooked right away by the story, however, while there were some elements of Beauty and The Beast, if felt more inspired by it than an interpretation of it.
Isra has lived a very sheltered and protected life, and while she does stand up for herself at the end, during most of the book she is a doormat and is too passive. That being said she is kind and is open to new ideas while still being stubborn. Gem is a strong character who thinks he is weak, he will do anything to help his people while still doing what is right and is honest with his feelings. The secondary characters had a lot of depth such as Needle and I liked how we got to see what Bo was thinking as it made it easier to understand him.
One problem with this book is that the ending felt rushed and I would have liked to have more time spend on it. I would recommend Of Beast and Beauty to fans of Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi and Fireblood by Trisha Wolfe.
I wanted to give this book more stars but despite the lovely writing and the new take on an old tale I just couldn't justify more. I was so excited to read this, I'm a huge fan of retellings and Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney film of all time, unfortunately Of Beast and Beauty fell a little flat for me.
The book was incredibly slow to get started. A few other reviewers have mentioned this but virtually nothing happened for the first few hundred pages. Despite having so many chapters devoid of action, they weren't filled with much needed world building or providing us with missing character back stories. By the time the romance started to take off I still hadn't really connected with the characters at all and I didn't feel invested in their romance either. There wasn't much chemistry between the pair and I found them both a little annoying in their own way. Isra seemed to bleat on and on about her difficulties in being a powerless queen, weakened by her blindness and her supposed mutation. Gem was endlessly angry about the conditions his people lived in and blamed all the Smooth Skin’s for their fate. Although I can appreciate each of their struggles, it got a little repetitive hearing about it over and over again.
I wasn't keen on the chapters from Bo’s perspective, or of his character in general really. At times he was very kind and seemed to genuinely care for Isra, and then the rest of the time he was unbearable. It was like he had a split personality. Nice, caring Bo and then cruel, power-hungry Bo. Reading his chapters and his comments about finally getting to take Isra to bed were so uncomfortable.
I did enjoy the new elements that the author introduced to the story and the clever twists on the old tale, particularly that their roles were flipped and Gem became Isra’s prisoner. I just wish the plot had progressed a little faster, there was so much filler and every little event that did happen seemed to be dragged out over so many chapters that I found myself getting a bit bored. The romance definitely took centre stage throughout the book and there was a a lot of their inner monologues about their feelings, which seemed to flip from love to hate and back again at least a dozen times. It got a little repetitive by the end.
The ending itself was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I did enjoy it to a certain extent, particularly the moments when Isra finally started to stand up for herself, it's just a shame it took her 337 pages to get there. The actual breaking of the curse was a little vague, both Gem and Isra had realised they loved each other several chapters earlier so I'm still a little confused about why the curse didn't break until later. Maybe it just wasn't written very clearly, I may have to read that part again. After all this there is quite a nice HEA which rounded it all off pretty well.
It wasn't a terrible retelling and the writing, although a little drawn-out, was very enjoyable. It hasn't put me off reading more of Stacey Jay’s works, in fact I’m quite keen to try out Princess of Thorns which is a Sleeping Beauty retelling. I'm a little sad that I didn't get bowled over by this book the way a lot of reviewers were but would still recommend this to fans of Beauty and the Beast adaptations.
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