This was such a beautiful book. It was fanciful, romantic, poetic, and thought provoking.
Beauty and the Beast is by far my favorite fairy tale, and I love reading retellings. At this point I consider myself a little bit of an expert on the subject so when I say this was a good retelling, you can believe it.
I can’t promise that you will enjoy the book as much as I did because I think it is better suited for a particular audience, but Of Beast and Beauty was a one of a kind read for me and I loved it.
The best part is that I never found out who was the “beauty” and who was the “beast”
Isra is the delicate princess of the Smooth Skin people and Gem is the rough warrior of the Desert People. You would think that the “beauty” in that scenario is obvious, but you would be wrong.
Gem may be covered in scales and have razor sharp claws, but not only is he beautiful in a wild and animalistic way, he and his people are far kinder and more noble than a lot of the Smooth Skins. Because they are starving and forced to deal with so much adversity, they also live what little life they have to the fullest and don’t waste time on petty things.
And while I won’t say that all the Smooth Skins are evil, the way the live certainly is. They are an exaggerated representation of American society. The rich are few and hold 100% of the power. I can’t go into all the awful things that take place in the domed city that Isra and all the royals inhabit, but it is awful.
For most of the book, I was unaware just how bad things were because Isra was both literally and figuratively blind to it all. Not only is she blind, but she has also been locked away in a tower for most of her life and been told that it is for her protection. This blindness and isolation from the other royals has enabled her to be kinder and more tolerant than the other’s. This softer attitude is also probably why she was able to befriend and eventually fall for Gem.
Gem was a great hero, and it was nice to read about a leading man who shattered all my perceptions of what is ideal. The descriptions of the Smooth Skin males made them seem alien, short, and too delicate to be called handsome. Their smooth skin and sharp cheekbones were no more appealing than Gem’s scales and broad shoulders so I was forced to stop caring about the physical descriptions and focus more on who these people were on the inside. Gem was strong, noble, and intelligent and that’s what made him an ideal hero.
I enjoyed the relationship between Gem and isra more in the beginning when they still kind of hated each other. It was fun to read how they learned to let go of the resentments and prejudices that had been cultivated between their people. When they did finally start to realize that their feelings for each other had softened, the relationship lost a little of the magic for me and the progression of those feelings became rushed. It wasn’t insta love, but I would have liked to have gotten more scenes of them learning to trust, like, and eventually love each other.
All in all this book was sigh worthy in its beauty. I found myself wishing that it wasn’t a standalone because the author could have easily drawn the story out for a few more books, and I would have been glad to shell out the money. However I respect and appreciate her choice to not only tell such an epic tale in one book but to confine it to under 400 pages. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and at times the storytelling was rushed because of it, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment in the slightest.
If you like Beauty and the Beast, romance, and inventive fantasy, give this one a read. And I hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did. And that ending? You should read the book just for that ending. *sigh*
Because of violence and some sexual content, I would recommend this book for ages 16 and up. There are no sex scenes, but there is a pretty heavy make out session.