Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review: Of Beast and Beauty

Stacey Jay
Young Adult/Fairy Tale Retelling
391 pages
Delacorte Press
Available Now
Source: Bought for book club!

THE STORY (from 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.

Of Beast and Beauty is a gorgeous reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, one that forces us to reevaluate the traditional definition of beauty and see how devastating prejudice can be.

Isra is a young woman who's been sheltered most of her life, confined to a tower as she awaits the day in which she'll give her life so that the magic which sustains her kingdom will continue to flourish. As a result of her very limited life experience, she's had little cause to question her father the king or his advisor when they make decisions they feel are best for her, and her thoughts on the Monstrous simply mimic the thoughts and opinions of those around her. It takes us a while to truly warm to her (though she's easily likable from the beginning), convinced as she is that her world is simply too big for one person to change, but ever so slowly with the help of her Monstrous prisoner Gem she finds a backbone of steel she never knew she had. Once she sees that only the presence of scales and claws separates the Smooth Skins from the Monstrous, she begins a campaign to turn her world upside down and set right all that has gone wrong over the past centuries.

Gem is someone we can't help but root for from the beginning despite his plans to deceive Isra and steal the magic sustaining her kingdom, his interactions with her bringing a smile to our faces every time. He is a voice of reason, a bright spot of color shocking her black and white world, calling into question everything she's believed for so long and making her see (figuratively of course given her blindness) that one person is all that's needed to be a catalyst for change. Their romance is of the slow burn variety, the two of them forming a hesitant friendship at first that gradually builds in trust and respect until it turns to love and has us swooning left and right.

While things for Isra and Gem get dark in the final quarter of this book, we're left with a fairy tale ending and a sense of contentment, setting this book on a shelf of favorites to be re-read time and again in the future.

Rating: 4.5/5

Find Stacey:


  1. I am currently reading this book, and I am really enjoying it. I kind of just skimmed your review to avoid any possible spoilers.

  2. So I think Blogger ate my comment, so I'll try again and I'm sorry if there's a duplicate comment from me.

    I'm so so so happy you loved this one as much as I did. So many people in the book club arre DNFing it and it breaks my heart because I love this book and I wanted everyone else to love it too. Anyways, I digress.
    I'm listening to it as an audiobook right now and I'm loving it even more this second time around. The characters and the romance are everything.
    I 100% agree with you about the slow burn romance. It's so lovely!
    Beautiful review, Jenny!
    I'm excited to chat more with you later about this one! :)

  3. Re-imagining of the fairy-tales hasn't really been a strong suit for me that was probably why I didn't read this month's book. I feel slightly bad because of it. But I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :)

  4. This one is in my TBR pile and I was planning to get to it for one of my challenges. Knowing that you really loved it makes me even more determined to read it soon!

  5. Great review! I forgot about this boo...thanks for putting it back onto my radar. I love Beauty and the Beast, so I should probably check this out. I'm glad you enjoyed it and if it's a favorite of yours, I should definitely move it up on my TBR list.

  6. I alway love retelling, they're so interesting and I love to see what the author is going to do. I did read one by her, a UF book and enjoyed it, I have book 2 so I should try it first but I'm curious about this one too.

  7. Jenny, I'm thrilled you loved this one. I immediately went looking for it after reading Jay's Princess of Thorns. I have this gorgeous book on my shelf - I so need to get to it as I'm such a fan of retellings - I know I'll love it as well :)

  8. I'm with Nick, I loved this, I really did and it does make me sad that so many didn't. Oh well, we can't all love the same things right? But happy you did! :D

  9. Beauty and the Beast is my fav!! I'm totally checking this book out. Thanks for the review!

  10. I'm so glad you fit this one in! I loved it as well and it was on my favorites list for last year (when I'd finally read it). It really was a remarkable book!

  11. I really enjoyed this author's retelling of Sleeping Beauty and I've been eyeing this one. I'm a big fan of slow burn romances and I really like the sound of this book's unique world building. I guess I really need to find some time to squeeze this one in!

  12. I always love retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but i've been on the fence about this one for a while since people either seem to have really liked this one or disliked it. That being said, i love what you have to say about this one and i can see myself picking it up soon!

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. LOL! Something went wrong with the last comment, sorry! Anyhow:

    YES YES YES! I really enjoyed this book too last summer and I'm excited to re-read this again :) It took me a while to truly warm up to Isra as well, but I think it was a great character growth for her this journey of hers. Gem! I. HAD. SWOON. So much swooning to do when it comes to both of them and I really liked how they slowly warmed up to each other. Though, I must say that the romance maybe became too overpowering for me at one point, but boy was there swoon! I'm so glad you loved this too Jenny <3

    Siiri @ Little Pieces of Imagination

  15. I remember when this one came out - I was interested but hesitant because not all fairytale retellings are created equal - and I wanted to be sure this one delivered before getting too excited about it. But, naturally, now that I've read your thoughts, I MUST read it :D ESPECIALLY if it's a new favorite of yours! Fantastic review Jenny ♥

  16. OOoh nice! I still want to read this one and own it! I just haven't gotten around to it! B&B is like my favorite fairy tale and I love a good retelling of it, along with nearly every fairy tale there is! Great review!

  17. Beautiful review, Jenny. I remember wanting to read this when it came out, and I havne't done so. I love the sound of the romance, Friends to lovers, slow burn is the best kind.

  18. This sounds really great. I love slow burn romances and like the sound of how this beauty and the beast retelling is done.

  19. This sounds great, Jenny! I'll have to check it out. :D

  20. Yay for the book club! I started this today but couldn't focus with everything going on...
    I'm listening to the audio so I hope to finish it soon.
    Glad you liked it!

  21. I have this one on my TBR and honestly I cannot wait to get to it! I'm a retelling junkie, for starters, and it seems like this one also looks into the concept of beauty and prejudice as well. Tapping into more themes is always a plus for me.

  22. So happy you loved this one (but I'm soo sad that Stacey Jay had to take an extended hiatus ): )

    I couldn't quite connect with the world-building on this one, but I loved the characters, especially poor Isra!