I’ve talked a bit on my blog about how much I adore retellings, even if the final product doesn’t always impress me that much. Maybe I should than say that I’m a massive fan of the idea of retellings. And possibly my favorite fairytale is Beauty and the Beast. So it is not surprising that I have been collecting a few retellings of this fairytale both on my Kindle and on my TBR. So a couple weeks ago, I decided that I was in the mood to read a bunch of them. I had like 12 to read, and I only got 7 done. So who knows, I might do this type of challenge again.
I filmed a very rambling video for this over on my Youtube channel.
I thought it would be a great idea to do a bunch of mini reviews for these books. So strap in and get ready for a Beauty and the Beast overload!
The first book I read was published in 2019, and is the first book in the Daughters of Eville series (I haven’t read the others yet).
It follows Rosalie, a witch forced by her vengeful mother to marry Prince Xander of Baist, a man who hates both her and magic. Rosalie is hated and feared by her new people, forced to always hide her face by her new husband. But she sneaks out in disguise as a maid, and Xander finds himself interested in this mysterious woman as a beast begins to attack and kill people in the night.
I loved this book! I gave it 5 stars and it was easily my favorite book of this challenge. It’s not perfect, but I loved the silly misunderstandings between Xander and Rosalie. In the beginning I thought I would dislike too many misunderstanding, but they fit and was resolved relatively quickly. The magic system wasn’t unique, and I did not care about all of Rosalie’s sisters being mentioned (but I know they had to be mentioned because their stories are the next books), but I adored the adventure and characters so much! It’s also got this quirky humor which fits perfectly with my own.
This book was the most recently published in August, 2020. It’s the third book in the Once Upon a Con Series, but I haven’t read the two previous books (I believe they are all stand-alones, so that’s good).
This one follows Rosie, who meets a mysterious masked man at her favorite TV series Comicon (this one called ExcelsiCon) and spends a wonderful evening talking before they separate and she assumes she’ll never see him again. She soon meets Vance, a famous actor whose first edition book she accidentally drops in the pool. In order to pay him back, she agrees to work to organize the library in the house he’s living. Naturally, madness and romance ensues.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I ended up giving it 2 Stars. Rosie felt forcibly relatable and not realistic. Vance was snotty and interesting, but his change felt a bit sudden. There are so many book references in this book that I felt like it was written to be relatable without actually making relatable characters. It also seemed to be entirely based on the Disney movie as opposed to the original fairytale. Saying that, the premise wasn’t bad and there were a few funny scenes, but I could never really enjoyed this book.
This next book is possibly the one most based on the original fairytale. Published in 2018, it tells the original story from the perspective of the beast in 17th century France.
The plot is slow, and the writing is extremely flowery. Beauty, called Isabeau, is merely good, having little to no development. Beast sees through a mirror to observe Isabeau’s two sisters, and a third of the book is spent on the sister’s romance. One of my biggest criticisms of this book is how slow it is, filled with padding like heavy description. I did not care for all about the story of the sisters, and I was really disappointed that Isabeau wasn’t developed at all, even though there was time to spend getting to know her.
I ended up giving this book 3 Stars. I really enjoyed themes of isolation and the examination of the beast mind, but for the most part the book had too much padding.
This is probably the book which prompted me to do this challenge to begin with, because I keep seeing people review it and it made me want to read it! And I finally did!
Published in 2016, this book takes a steampunk look on the original fairytale. It features Lucy Pickett, a young, independent woman who is called to an English manor house by her newly married cousin to help with the strange hauntings in the house. There are also some vampire attacks nearby. There she meets Lord Miles Blackwell, her cousin’s new brother-in-law, and a man known as a beastly figure.
I ended up giving this 3 Stars. I loved the mystery aspect of the story, and the world was great, if a little in the background. However, the characters and romance failed a bit for me. Lucy was a contradiction, strong at some points and then weak so Miles could save her. Miles seemed like a stereotypical, brooding Mr. Rochester, and I kept wanting to see more depth from him. Similarly, the romance felt predictable. This wasn’t a bad book, but I could see how much better it could have been.
I mean, the idea of beast being a shape-shifter dragon forced to remain in his dragon form because he killed innocent people seeking revenge for his parents’ death is a new twist, and one I loved. Unfortunately, that was probably the only good part of this book.
Published in 2016, this book follows Alistair, a prince cursed to remain a dragon, and Princess Anastasia Rose, a girl forced to become a dragon’s prisoner. There were so many things that failed for me about this book.
First, before she gets there, Ana’s father sells her to a prince who tries to rape her. She stabs him, runs back to her father, who is fighting Alistair at that moment, and when Alistair says her father will be his prisoner, she offers herself. The way she gets to the place was so convoluted and silly, and her father kept changing personality to fit the plot. Second, Ana also has magic and she wants to go to school for it but instead must go live with the Beast. Now, the magic plot point is mentioned about three times in the entire book, and yet she uses it to win in the end (no spoilers), showing massive powers we never got to see her build. Third, there were these strange romance dreams between Ana and Alistair where they were both human and it…uh…got a little handsy. Having kind of erotic dreams is just plan creepy to me. Might just be me.
Overall, I gave this book 2 Stars. Great premise, but too many horrible plot points to make it really enjoyable.
Published in 2019, this novella follows Rose Sinclair and Henry Covington. Rose is the daughter of a bookstore owner and gambler, who is thrown into debtor’s prison after secretly taking out loans. Rose sells the store and books to pay back all his debts but one. The last loan is owned by Henry Covington, a wealthy man known as a beast. Rose goes to ask for a job from him to pay back her father’s debt, and she becomes a maid at his house.
I gave this book 3 Stars. It was a short, sweet story, but it felt highly underdeveloped. Henry was an interesting character, but he went from not knowing Rose to within a month saying she had changed his life, and it didn’t feel authentic because we weren’t able to see their relationship grow. Henry was a good person, and it made no sense why he had gained a reputation as a beast. I liked the main characters and there is a bit of a mystery, but for the most part I wanted more development.
This is the last book I read for this challenge. Published in 2013, it follows Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, and Gem, a Monstrous.
This book is by far the darkest of all these, and it dabbles deep in horror. It also has the most complex, interesting world.
The history goes like this, centuries ago, the world was ruled by a god, who was split into the Pure Heart and Dark Heart. The Smooth Skins of the city of Yuan made a deal with the Dark Heart to give blood sacrifices in return for prosperity and protection. Outside the city lived the Monstrous, mutant beasts who are considered evil. Inside the city, some are cursed to have Monstrous traits and are called the Banished.
Into this world we meet Isra, the blind princess and heir of the city of Yuan. She stumbles upon Gem, a Monstrous who snuck into steal roses from the rose garden which is supposedly where the power of the city comes from (the human sacrifices are fed to the roses to feed the Dark Heart, so the books describes the roses as the Dark Heart’s teeth). He is caught and Isra keeps him alive, but as her prisoner.
I won’t say more because it would all be a spoiled, but I did mostly like this book. I gave it 3 stars, but it’s probably closer to 3.5 stars. The world was exceptional, but unfortunately I didn’t care for the romance, and that was kind of a main focus. The world seemed to come secondary, which disappointed me. And the ending was pretty bad (watch my video for some spoilers). But still, a solid, creepy read with lots of death.
There are all the books I read for this challenge. I really enjoyed it, and it’s made me want to do other retelling reading challenges. We’ll see in the future.
Have you read any of these books? Do they look good to you? What types of retellings do you like to read? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,