Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

20 10 2013

As some of you know, I have been in love with the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast since I was a child. It has been a bit of an obsession of mine since I was young and I have read MANY remakes of the story. That being said, Of Beast and Beauty went beyond my expectations. It took a very unique spin on one of my favorite fairytales of all time!

spoilers warning

Of Beast and Beauty Finished: October 8th, 2013
Published: July 23rd, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
POV: Multiple First Person (Isra and Gem)
Number of Pages: 391

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.”

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Of Beast and Beauty took an even magical and darker twist on the original story of a Beast and his Beauty. It was like stepping out of a normal fantasy world and into a surreal world of blood, secrets, and a story unlike any I have read before.

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Isra: The only daughter of the Yuan king and a living sacrifice for her people. Isra was a very unique character for me. Not only was she blind but she was considered a ‘monster’ because she was taller than her people and had ‘scales’. The best thing about Isra is the fact that, as a blind person, she is an unreliable narrator. For the first half of the book she tries to spreads her wings and be free only to have her freedom taken away even more after her father is murdered and she is made Queen. She’s strong and tries to do well by her people and eventually, the Mosterous beyond her dome. She’s even willing to sacrifice her love for the sake of her people, much like Belle from the movie. What I liked most about her was how different she was compared to all the other girls her age. She loves running around barefoot and working in the garden and strolling around the gardens at night.

Gem: Our dear Beast. Gem’s design in the book (and in my head) was similar to the Silurians from Doctor Who. With scales and claws and the whole shebang. He was very fierce at the beginning filled with hate and loathing toward Isra. I found him and his people to be intersting. The way he spoke of his ways and the treatment of his people by the Smooth Skins really had me sympathizing with them. I found his hard avoidance of Isra somewhat of a relief. I’m glad that their relationship evolved from hate to love over time instead of right away. It seemed much more believeable.

If the Monstorous had these guns around, I'm sure they would have over thrown the smooth skins a long time ago.

If the Monstorous had these guns around, I’m sure they would have over thrown the smooth skins a long time ago.

Needle: Isra’s mute companion. She was loyal 100% to Isra and would do anything to take care of and protect her. I really enjoyed and admired her character. It was nice to see that isra had at least one person she could be close to and wasn’t alone. She was actually my favorite character and the fact that she could be that without talking 98% of the book really shows how powerful her character was.

Bo: Isra’s fiance (the Gaston of the book). I went back and forth from liking to hating Bo. He seemed really sweet and genuine at times and yet a total womanizer and jerk at other times. Honestly, he didn’t leave much of an impression on me so I don’t have a whole lot to say about him. Every time I heard how apparently attractive he was, all I could think about was his Disney counterpart doing this:

gaston hair gif

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So the story is a drastic change on the original tale (one I find is better). Isra was bred to be a sacrifice to the dark roses in her garden that keep the giant dome that protects their kingdom strong (as well as let the water flow and make the ground fertile, etc.). They need royal blood to sustain themselves. What I like about this plot is that the rose has been made a dark force and the sort of ‘evil spell’ while Gem’s people and their transformation was necessary to survive on the new planet humans landed on gifted to them by a good god. (I know it sound complex, but I promise it is not mixed up or difficult to understand in the book).

Like I said before, the love story wasn’t too rushed or overdone (minus the occasional pining) and the evolution was their relationship was great. Add in all the secrets and the political conspiracies in the story and you have a very magical, dark, twisted and suspenseful story!

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I can’t get over how great this story was! It had all the best twist and turns and love and mystery that I enjoy in a fantasy novel! For a spin-off on a book & movie that is very dear to my heart, I thought that Stacey jay did a marvelous job making the story uniquely her own and I recommend it to any fairytale lover! 5 out of 5 stars!

5star

Support the author and buy the book wherever books are sold (or borrow it from your library).

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