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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 21 April 2017
Beauty is the third in Sarah Pinborough's circular trilogy of retold fairytales. I bought my copy at the launch party and first posted this short review on Goodreads back in very early 2015...

Like its companions in the series, Beauty takes familiar elements from fairytales and remixes them with flair, wit, fully realised characters, and a fair amount of naughty behaviour. Beauty draws most obviously on Sleeping Beauty, but also Beauty and the Beast, and Red Riding Hood.

I read Poison, Charm and Beauty in the order of publication, but you could probably approach the trilogy in pretty much any order as characters and plot elements are shared between the books. But do try and track down the original mini hardback editions, as they are among the most lovingly designed books I've ever owned.
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With "Beauty", Pinborough completes the trilogy of retold fairy tales that began with Poison and continued with Charm. Or begins it: chronologically, this book actually comes before the others - and together they also form a single narrative. After finishing this book you may want to go back and re-read the others - details that were left hanging there are now explained, and the three books, taken together, make a compact, cleverly woven story.

If you've read the other books, you will know what to expect. If you haven't, they give a cool, non-traditional take on classic fairy tales (here, Sleeping Beauty - though Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood and others come in as well). The characters come across as real people. Pantomime villains (and heroes) don't feature - even the "bad" characters have some redeeming virtues, some complexity and some sympathetic backstory. Of course, as before, the handsome Prince doesn't come out too well - Pinborough clearly prefers the quick thinking young girl and the down to earth huntsman - but we do get to see a bit of context for some of his actions in the other books. I still don't think what he does later is justifiable, but when you see what he has gone through here, it's perhaps a little more understandable.

Sarah Pinborough deserves a great deal of credit for taking such familiar stories and making them into page-turning modern adventures, filled with peril, moral complexity and utterly believable characters.
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Beauty is the last of Sarah Pinborough's twisted fairytale retellings (sob, weep etc.). It's a fantastic book to end the series on, just as good as Poison and Charm and, if possible, darker and more messed up than Snow White and Cinderella's respective stories. Old characters return, beloved fairytale heroes connect in magical ways and the tales come full circle... or do they? This book is set before the others, which means Poison and Charm become a lot clearer following the events of Beauty.

Beauty is the story of Sleeping Beauty with some Beauty and the Beast thrown in for good measure. There's actually several fairytales and their characters featured, but I'll leave those as a nice reader surprise. I love how Pinborough weaves stories within stories, beautifully decadent and written with an ease and precision that is a joy for everyone. Her characters are real, their histories often heartbreaking and their intentions usually very far from good. You can probably tell that I ADORE this series!

I of course have to mention Les Edwards again, the man responsible for illustrating these books and making them a visual treat. Pinborough's words would be like spun gold by themselves, but the ink illustrations make them all the more appealing. Beauty is a fantastic conclusion to this series which has fast become one of my favourites. I'm going to have to re-read all three books now to fully experience the giant story, and I can't wait to pick up on things I missed the first time around. I can't recommend these book enough: go forth and read!
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on 16 November 2013
This book (and its two companions) take fairy tales and twist, subvert and darken them. The Grimm brothers were pretty dark anyway, but this is a still darker version of Sleeping Beauty with a bit of Rumplestiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, and Little Red Riding Hood thrown in. Oh, and there's a werewolf. Yeah.

The advantage to be gained from retelling fairy tales is to give the odd characters depth and personality for a new audience and a more modern way of storytelling. This is where my disappointment lay, ultimately. All the characters felt very flat, with no more characterisation than in the originals. The handsome prince is still a cipher, as is the sleeping beauty, and indeed all the supporting cast.

I wanted to give it 2 and a half stars, so I'm being nice and rounding up instead of down, but honestly, it could have gone either way. I won't be reading the other two.
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on 19 November 2013
After reading Poison & Charm earlier this year, I was waiting with baited breath for Beauty to be published in October. Thankfully, the months pasted quickly and I was able to launch myself into Beauty and devour Sarah Pinborough's writing again in another gorgeous fairy tale retelling with lots of twists.

Beauty didn't disappoint in my expectations and I was absorbed into the fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast mixed with Rapunzel with added snippets of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. I love how easily the fairy tales are mixed together and added with the saucy and sexy elements. An added element within Beauty, although somewhat mildly within the other books, was a `dark side' and I loved how this story took on an American Horror Story-esque nature.

The different take on Beauty and the Beast in this book was also refreshing to read and I welcome other authors to think of writing something so creative with an existing story, especially well-known fairy tales. Maybe only comparable in my mind is Marissa Meyer's YA series, The Lunar Chronicles.

The whole series can be read in order, out of order or just as stand-alone books and that's the great thing about this series. The books are intertwined ever so slightly and certainly I'd recommend reading Posion before Charm (unlike myself who read it the other way round - it did not however ruin the story for me) because of the epic reveal at the end of Charm. Beauty however in my personal opinion is a prequel to Poison - aspects of the story swayed me to think this however I'm not sure whether this is accurate. Either way this series is incredible and if you are looking for an adult sexy romance fairy tale retelling, these are the books for you!
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Beauty is the third and final short novel in a trilogy of retellings of classic fairy tales by Sarah Pinborough. Just like its companion stories, Beauty is a fantastic and brilliantly written short novel for readers who love beautifully written dark fairy tales and who are fascinated by the darker side of speculative fiction. It's a stunning and decadent retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale with many surprises and twists.

Sarah Pinborough is an excellent storyteller. I have to admit that I'm honestly amazed at her extraordinary vision about classic fairy tales, because she uses bits and pieces of them to create something new, but stays true to them and their atmosphere. She doesn't repeat what other authors have already written about them, but boldly modernises the stories to make them look exciting, fresh and sexy so that they will appeal to modern readers. I can say that she has found a permanent place on my reading list because of this marvellous fairy tale trilogy.

I consider Poison, Charm and Beauty to be among the best and most original modern retellings of classic fairy tales ever written (you can probably notice by this review how much I love Beauty and its companion stories). I enjoyed reading them, because they differed from other retellings in terms of beautiful prose, good characterisation and imaginative plot twists. I'm sure that many readers will find them fascinating, because they're brilliantly told fairy tales. It's possible to say that these short novels are dream-come-true novels for those who read fairy tales and enjoy the darker side of speculative fiction.

This story is coated with enchanting darkness and terrifying beauty that is reminiscent of the original and unsanitised versions of the classic fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. It's a dark fairy tale with brutal and sexy scenes, but there are also heartbreaking scenes in it that create a nice and touching balance for the darker scenes.

Before I write more about Beauty and its contents, I think it's good to mention that Beauty is not a children's fairy tale. It's a dark, sexy and brutal fairy tale for adults. I'll also mention that Beauty is set before the events described in Poison and Charm. It sheds some light on a few things that were mentioned in these companion stories and lets readers understand them better.

Here's information about the story:

- The king and the queen talk about the prince. They think that the prince has been spoiled and needs to grow up, start a family of his own and gain more experience about many things, because he spends too much time being out all night at inns and sleeping late. They decide that he needs an adventure and the prince is told about a kingdom that has mysteriously disappeared. The king wants the prince to find it...

- The king's men want the huntsman to be a companion to the prince on his trip to the edge of the Far Mountain. Together, they travel towards the mountain and get to know one another...

- Petra is on her way to her grandmother's cottage, which is in the middle of the forest far away from the village. Her grandmother has problems with the wolves. Suddenly Petra and her grandmother meet the huntsman and the prince who help them. Petra joins the huntsman and the prince on their quest...

This is the beginning of an enchanting and gripping fairy tale for adults.

The author successfully blends elements from many fairy tales (Rumpelstitskin, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty etc) and creates a story that will impress everyone who has ever read classic fairy tales and been enchanted by them and their darkness. I was personally very impressed by the infusion of Beauty and the Beast story into the Sleeping Beauty story, because it worked well and resulted in a stunning piece of dark fiction for adults.

When you begin to read this story, forget everything you thought you knew about the Sleeping Beauty, because this story reveals a whole new and macabre side of her. In Poison and Charm, Sarah Pinborough revealed what kind of persons Snow White and Cinderella truly are and now she does the same to Sleeping Beauty. Her vision of the Sleeping Beauty is simply amazing.

The author explores Beauty's life in a fascinating way. She writes about her childhood and what happened to her, because she has something in her blood that makes her different from other people. I won't reveal what kind of a person she is, but I'll mention that many readers will be fascinated and also terrified by what she is and what she does.

In this story, Sleeping Beauty is stripped of her gentleness and innocence, because she has a dark and brutal side to her, and she has different needs than normal people. Although Beauty is normally a kind person, her dark side is truly formidable and frightening. The author showcases her dark side with shocking explicitness. It was interesting for me to read about her brutal nature and what was needed to satisfy its lustful and murderous cravings.

It's great that the well-known elements - the spindle, enchanted sleep and the handsome prince - from the original fairy tale are present in this retelling. They add a nice touch of elegance to the story.

In my opinion, character interaction works perfectly in this short novel. I enjoyed reading about what happened between the prince and Beauty. It was also enjoyable to read about how Petra and her grandmother reacted to the prince and the huntsman when they arrived at the grandmother's cottage. Sarah Pinborough writes fluently about how the characters feel about one another and what happens between them.

The author wrote well about Petra and her grandmother's problems with the wolves. The wolves caused problems by eating goats and messing up places. This is an interesting take on Little Red Riding Hood, because it's something different.

There's a nice sense of mystery in this story, because the huntsman wonders about the castle and what happens there, because everything doesn't seem to make sense to him and he has an odd feeling about things. I won't write any spoilers about the happenings and plot twists, but I'll mention that readers are in for an intriguing and shocking surprise when they read about the castle and its secrets.

Sarah Pinborough's prose is beautiful. She writes fairy-tale-like prose that wonderfully brings out the different nuances of the story and highlights the happenings. When you begin to read this short novel, the author's well written prose and good story instantly transports you to a fairytale land where magic is real and all kinds of things are possible. The story is so absorbing that you can't help but like it.

It's great that the author writes fluently and boldly about sex and violence, because it adds realism and roughness to the story. I have to mention that it was interesting to read about how men and women easily tumbled into bed with each other to search comfort, because life in the forest was hard. It was also intriguing to read about the brutal scenes, because they were amazing.

Reading about the orgy of sex and violence that was displayed in full force was truly memorable for me. This sensual and vicious scene impressed me, because it was something that is seldom seen in fairy tales. I was surprised by its raw sexuality and brutality.

One of the best things about Beauty is that it is not a black and white vision of an old fairy tale, but has many shades of grey. It's a modern and vivid take on a beloved story that many readers know, and it contains many elements (it tells of love, loss, sacrifice and life in a fairytale land). Although it's a short novel, it has plenty of different flavours and nuances that add lots of depth and style to it (this is one of the reasons why I love this story so much, because I've always enjoyed reading stories that have depth and style in them).

Just like the previous Titan Books editions of Poison and Charm, this edition of Beauty is truly a work of art, because the covers of the hardcover edition look stunningly beautiful and gorgeous. It's great that Titan Books has published Poison, Charm and Beauty as beautifully crafted editions, because there are many readers who appreciate this kind of beautiful editions.

If you find yourself fascinated by Beauty and want to read more similar kind of fairy tale stories, please take a look at its companion short novels, Poison and Charm, because they're excellent stories that deserve to be read and praised. I highly recommend reading all of them, because they form a fascinating trilogy that's full of surprises and intriguing twists.

If you enjoy reading dark and beautifully written stories, Sarah Pinborough's Beauty is an excellent short novel for you. It offers good prose, originality and style in a beautiful package that will please many readers. It's one of the best fairy tale retellings ever, because it's a charmingly sexy and brilliantly brutal fairy tale for adult readers.

Highly recommended!
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on 31 May 2014
The third book in a collection of fairy tales retold for a modern audience. Essentially this is a re-telling of Beauty And The Beast which incorporates characters from several other well known classic fairy tales.

Given the warning/promise on the cover that this was 'a delicious, sexy Sleeping Beauty story' I didn't for one moment think it was going to be a suitable bedtime story for really young children but having finished it I must admit to being confused as to just what market it was aimed at.

With some wonderful ink illustrations that I'm sure children would find appealing, whilst for the main part Beauty was a fairly innocent read about a third of the way or so through there were several pages of an erotic and violent nature making it anything but suitable for younger readers.

Though still not convinced as to the merits of re-tellings, of whether as some believe they are a reflection on life today just as the Brothers Grimm stories were a reflection on life all those years ago or merely lazy, unoriginal story telling, I have to admit that I did think the twists to the original plots combined with the joining together of characters from several stories intriguing but for me that was the only appeal..

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
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on 29 April 2015
In a word - disappointing. This was such a hotch potch jumble of various fairy tales that the result was like picking through a plate of congealed spaghetti looking for a single, common thread. It covers beauty and the beast, sleeping beauty, red riding hood, peter and the wolf (or in this case Petra and the wolf), rapunzel and rumplestiltskin as well as throwing in hints of lesser known tales. And it still might have been salvageable if we were given a strong, clear MC (or three) that we could get close to and care about. Instead in typical 'once upon a time' fashion we were held at arms length and as a result I didn't really care what happened. I wouldn't have bothered finishing this if it hadn't been so short. Sarah Pinborough can definitely write - think of 'the language of dying' - so what happened here I can't imagine. As far as retellings go, this was weak. There were no original twists, the things that were changed had been done before several times, and overall it felt directionless, as if the author didn't care. I have got 'charm' and 'poison' but I'm going to have to wait for the irritation at this incomprehensible jumble to fade first before reading them. If you like fairy tale retellings I can think of dozens of better examples than this I'm afraid to say.
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on 1 July 2015
I became a huge fan of Sarah’s writing after reading ‘The Language of the Dying’, and this is a novella I have come back to several times. I first became aware of ‘Beauty’ through the nominations for the British Fantasy Society awards; and although rewrites/re-vamps of fairy tales are not normally my thing (see my earlier review on Snow White and the Huntsman), I thought I would give this a shot. To be fair, I haven’t gotten to the end of it yet, but it is a beautifully written, illustrated and produced hardback. It reminds me very much of a fairy tale book my aunt gave me which was an unabridged collection of Grimms tales. I believe that was my first foray into the world of horror, where little girls cut off a finger to open a locked door, and beautiful maids wash and dry severed heads in order to appease a trapped spirit. My tastes then moved on to Stephen King, but if fairy tales are absolutely your thing, then you can’t go far wrong with this little beauty.
My version is the purple hardback.
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on 26 November 2013
A great ending to round off the series and tie up the loose ends whilst giving us some twists and insights into the characters. If you've read poison and charm, you'll have to read this and you'll enjoy it just as much.
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