Title: Of Beast and Beauty
Author: Stacey Jay
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publish Date: July 23, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction, Retellings
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.
The best things about reading retellings is that you can reminisce on the original stories as you go along. You’ll know that it’s a good retelling if gives you a fresh, new perspective on the original story.
I’ve watched and loved Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as a child, but I can’t really remember much about it right now. Reading Of Beast and Beauty reminded me that even the bad can turn good once a special something or someone comes into their life. Honestly, though? I’m not one to believe in fairy tales, but Miss Stacey Jay had such a whimsical way of writing that made me begin to imagine a world where fairy tales really did exist.
As the story Beauty and the Beast goes, there is a princess and there is a beast. At first, they fear each other. Then they fall in love. It seems like a very generic plot the way I say it, but trust me, this story has so much depth and meaning to it that will make you feel and believe in love, friendship and loyalty.
“And what good is a voice when so few will listen?”
There were plenty of quotes and scenes from the book that could make you question the world and humanity, which is great. My teacher once told me that the best things in the world are the ones that make you think, inquire and get you curious. Of Beast and Beauty did just that!
Miss Jay’s writing style was very elegant yet nowhere near boring. I could already picture the castle and the rose garden in my mind very vividly. And of course, being Asian, I really appreciated the Asian setting (China? I think it’s China). Although the castle and what was outside the dome already had a pictures formed in my mind, I constantly wondered about what the rest of the domed city looked like.
The characters were really well-developed and fit into the story just right. I mean, Isra and Gem seemed like the perfect characters for a romantic fantasy retelling. They clicked with the world and really belonged there.
“Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it.”
Although Isra was a little bit irritating in the middle of the book, the characters were generally interesting to read about and were all likable by the end of the story. Some were good examples of loyalty, while others showed defiance but independence. Whether you’re a child, a teenager or a young adult, these characters were highly respectable.
As for romance, well–there wasn’t any insta-love! The main characters spent months getting to know each other and gradually became closer to the other. It was sweet, touching and very worthy of all the feels you can give, so be prepared with tissues and try not to smile too much so that you won’t look like an insane hobo while reading–that is, if you decide to read the book! (You should.)
Overall, it was a really great read. I would recommend it to those looking for a fresh, romantic retelling that will make you question the way things are, but might restore your faith in humanity.
Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think of it? If not, do you think you’ll be interested in it?