Sunday, 1 December 2013

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay


Forget Disney and imagine a dystopian setting...

Courtly politics and romance clash in this ambitious retelling of one the most beloved fairy tales of all times.

Told in a lyrical prose that I'm starting to think of as the author's trademark when it comes to retellings (see Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed), "Of Beast and beauty" is a magical dark tale, where appearances can be deceiving, and where there's more danger in roses than in their thorns...

Taking elements of other traditional fairy tales, such as Rapunzel (the tower) and Sleeping Beauty (the roses), the author gives them a new life,  incorporating them as some sort of vintage element, which in this story gains a whole new life.

This is how it starts:

IN the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret. The secret was as old as the cracked cobblestone streets of Yuan, as peculiar as the roses that bloom eternally within the domed city’s walls, as poisonous as forgotten history and the stories told in its place.

Great beginning!
And as you can "see"/read, I wasn't joking about the quality of the writing.

Then the characters, Isra and Gem are perfectly delineated. Their emotions, their ambitions, what makes them human, is all there on the pages. They're not some clueless zombie puppets without soul.

Even regarding one of the assumed villains, he is given a thorough character development throughout the story. There's no white and black definitions for the author's characters.

The pace of the story can be a little slow at times, but I honestly had no problem with it, since I felt it was in "tone" with the cadence of the writing.

I liked how the romance was developed, how the characters even though in love with one another, didn't show any obvious signs of mental degeneration. (I'm not kidding!! Lately it seems that "losing their marbles" is one of the signs of being in love!  That and changing their personalities...)

Even though the cover has that whole "YA /NA adult" vibe, I can't help feeling that this story will be more appreciated by those who have passed their teens... and twenties... people who like a little more depth with their stories, and who are tired of the same old thing. People who like beautiful writing, as well as an engaging story.

This is not your usual Beast and Beauty story.
Who is the Beast?
Who is the Beauty?
In the end, does it even matter?

IN the beginning was the new world and hope brighter than the stars.
The broken were made whole, the Banished were welcomed home, and all people—Smooth Skin and Monstrous—were transformed by the planet that loved them.

I knew I should have read this "ages" ago! Like in July!!

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