“Of Beast and Beauty” was the book that I randomly picked from the library after having it recommended to me by BookOutlet based on my browsing and purchases. I knew nothing of this book and had never heard of the author, so I went into it with fairly low expectations. I did pick it up shortly after watching the new movie “Beauty and the Beast”, so I was rather in the mood for this type of retelling.
“Of Beast and Beauty” is a young adult fantasy novel, it is a stand alone, and quite overlooked in my opinion. The setting is a cross between sci-fi/dystopian and fantasy world, and found it very peculiar that there allusions to the times when people came to this world in spaceships.
The main protagonist, Princess Isra, lives in isolation in a tower, protected and hidden from the world due to her blindness and ugliness. Her city, Yuan, is covered by the dome, which has to be protected and reinforced by certain sacrifice to the magic of the city. Outside Yuan there is only desert, in which outcast and beastly people, the Monstrous, live. A group of monstrous finds their way inside Yuan in the hopes of stealing one of the red roses from the garden as their magic was prophesied to save their people from starvation. Gem, one of the monstrous, is captured and becomes Isra’s prisoner. Unexpectedly, Gem and Isra discover that not all things that they both believed in are true.
I suggest that if you want to read this book, stay away from reading the summary either on the flap or GoodReads as it happens to give away quite a bit of book’s events (no idea why). I went into this book completely blind and I think that is why I enjoyed it so much.
It is a rather interesting story, a very easy read. Nothing is too overly complicated, however, the world is rather interestingly constructed and it is not as easy to pinpoint who of either characters is supposed to be Belle and who is The Beast. Both Isra and Gem go through character development, which is great. The book is told from three different points of view, which I rather enjoyed as it showed that none of the characters were flawless or black and white.
Could I predict the book ending? Well, yes, as it is a retelling after all.
Did I know how the things were going to play out? Nope. I found twists and turns quite interesting and there were quite a few things that I didn’t see coming.
It was not the perfectly written book. It had flaws, especially in some of the character’s actions. However, I did like the characters, and all of my favourite moments were to do with the roses and garden. I swear, I was completely hooked by the story the moment when the roses turned out to be magical (it is not really a spoiler). Will probably never be able to view them as harmless flowers.
Personal rating: 3.5 stars