Review for Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and BeautyOf Beast and Beauty
By: Stacey Jay
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Purchase:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

My Rating:
star

Summary (via Goodreads):
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 Story:
Of Beast and Beauty is a incredibly creative, bold and entrancing retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast. Jay takes the classic elements and turns them on their head yet is able to keep the magic and fairy tale quality with a dash of science fiction.

The pacing was fast and as the story progressed I felt anxiety as I turned the pages, worried about the outcome and how Jay would wrap up her tale in the remaining pages. Not only was the story engaging the writing was eloquent and beautifully done. This book impacted me and I felt anger, love, fear…a mix of emotions leaving me easily wordless.

The Characters:
I have always been a fan of Beauty and the Beast. I never gave the story much thought but loved the idea of a grisly, frightening ‘beast’ being so much more. Jay was able to capture that aspect but also give her ‘beauty’ a depth I’m not sure has been achieved in other retellings.

Isra had a mountain of obstacles stacked against her and yet she was bold and brave. Though she is blind she didn’t let that stop her from finding ways to achieve the outcomes she desired. I also thought it was incredibly interesting to follow a blind main character since we didn’t get descriptions in the normal way. She couldn’t see the secondary characters so we learned about their characteristics slowly and I loved seeing them form in my mind as I read.

Jay writes from different character’s view points, Isra, Bo and Gem, giving us a well rounded look at the story. Gem had a wonderful voice and I really enjoyed seeing his internal battle play out. I felt that Jay did an excellent job giving each of her characters a unique presence and I never felt confused on who’s view I was reading.

Final Thoughts:
I had heard many wonderful things about Of Beast and Beauty prior to reading and I can confirm it was beautifully executed. Jay created and extraordinary retelling/reworking of a classic giving the characters unexpected depth. Not only were the characters vivid the story was entrancing.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Nice! Looks like you managed to write the review 🙂
    Oh wow, the main character is blind? I wonder how different the narrative style would be with her point of view…I really like multiple POV books because I love seeing the various perspectives each character has. I actually have a copy of this book lying around and reading your review makes me want to get started on it!

  2. says

    I’ve heard this is better than her Romeo retelling, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t read either yet. Though, I do own both Romeo books. I’m not sure if I’ll read this one or not…I love Beauty and the Beast, and it takes a lot to impress me with a retelling of that story. Glad you love it, though.

    • says

      I’ve not read any of her other books yet but I plan to. I tend to really enjoy retellings so this was right up my alley. If you do read it I would love to hear what you think.

  3. says

    Great review Kristen 🙂 I’m glad you loved this. <3 Still not sure if I'm going to buy it, but lots of people seem to love it 🙂 hmm, I might have to check it out more ;p Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. says

    I completely agree with your thoughts. I definitely thought it was interesting to get the story from the point of view of a blind person, and I also loved that there wasn’t a clear distinction between the ‘beauty’ and the ‘beast’. The epilogue made me really happy too. I almost wish there was another one, but this works so perfectly as a standalone. Fantastic review, Kristen!

    • says

      It did work perfectly as a stand alone. I can’t wait to read more from Jay–this was my first book from her. I really enjoyed her writing style.

  5. says

    Oh wow, 5 stars! I was already excited about this because Beauty and the Beast, and your review has pretty munched convinced me to add this to the buy wishlist. I’ve never read a book with POVs from a blind character, that must have been hard to write. It sounds like you connected really well to all the characters, especially if it brought out all that emotion in you.

  6. says

    First Scott’s review, then Sam’s and now yours… I think Of Beast And Beauty needs to move to the front of my TBR list quick!

  7. says

    I was on the fence about buying this one, but now I have to order it! Not just because I enjoy retellings but because it takes a lot of talent and thought to carve out a world via the eyes of a blind person. Must get it!

  8. says

    Oh yay – so thrilled to see that you enjoyed it. Beauty and the Beast is certainly one of my favourite fairytales, so I’m very curious to read Jay’s take on it. I’m particularly interested in experiencing the book from a blind character’s point of view – that’s certainly not som you see very often. Lovely review Kristen.

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