Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

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.

Hardcover, 391 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Delacorte Press

(info grabbed from GoodReads)

It's been so long since I've been this ... I don't know, surprised?  Satisfied?  Emotional?

Maybe one of those is the right word.  I am having a real difficulty with putting words to how much I liked OF BEAST AND BEAUTY.  I don't remember the last book I read that had non-insta-love, developed and mature feelings with well written characters and flowing prose.  At least not on this level.  I'm impressed and starting to doubt every rating/review I've done in the last three or so months.  OF BEAST AND BEAUTY pulls you into this odd mash up world of science fiction and fantasy that left me rather stunned.  The story was beautiful and I loved the characters -- even the ones I loved to hate.  This book is a retelling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST like no other, made into a brilliant novel by its everything -- the story, the characters, and (of course) the feels.

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY is set on a planet not so different from our own, but with a much harsher environment.  Oh, and magic exists and has a mind of its own.  Because of this harsh environment though, the people began to adapt, but in ways that were horrifying for them.  Thus, the remaining “smooth skins” sealed themselves off inside domes to protect themselves against the harsh weather and the now transformed outside.  Isra, a princess inside one of the domes, becomes the captor of one such outsider.

While still retaining traces of the original tale, we are swept into this magical and terrifying land.  I loved how original the world building was and also how switching of captor/prisoner role reversal.  It brought a whole new dynamic to the relationship of the Beauty and the Beast, and also made you question what makes one a Beast.

Speaking of the characters, each was a well carved out being.  And I don’t just mean the main characters, as so often those are the only characters with any real depth to them.  Each side character had a purpose, but didn’t simply feel as if they were there to serve a purpose.  I don't even know what to say about the feels -- I just want to post a GIF in an attempt to explore what I'm feeling with internet humor.  But that just wouldn’t do it justice.

I want to read this book again.  And again and again.  With flawless writing and a breathtaking story, this is a book not to miss.  I adored it cover to… whatever you call the back of the book.  Seriously, I live for books where love can save the world.

Final Thought:  ALL the toadstools

PS: I just want to point out there is a rose on the cover.

This review is also posted on GoodReads

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