It’s finally March! I’ve been anticipating the coming of this very month for some time now, mainly because the Beauty and The Beast live-action movie is going to be released mid March. I’ve always loved Disney’s Beauty and The Beast passionately, what with Belle being my favourite Disney Princess out of the dozen or so. Perhaps it’s the way like Belle, I enjoy reading more than anything else, often preferring the company of books to humans. No joke though, the power of a good book is more than you can imagine!
Speaking of good books, Of Beast and Beauty is one that I’ve just finished reading a few days back.
As this is the 1st book review I’m doing, just a little background info on the genre of books I enjoy. Fantasy, romance, mystery, classic lit and lately a little of self-help and success lit. Basically from fiction to non-fiction, whatever draws me.
So now let’s get into my book review! Of Beast and Beauty, as the title might not so subtly reveal, is author Stacey Jay’s take on the classic Beauty and The Beast story, with a twist! Here, Belle (Isra) imprisons Beast (Gem), unlike what happens in the story we know. The backbone of this romantic-fantasy story remains firm throughout, so this is definitely not a book that’ll leave Beauty and The Beast lovers (like myself) disappointed. On the contrary, you’d find yourself loving it and wondering why you didn’t chance upon this book earlier!
The story takes place in a fantasy world very much different from ours, where the world is divided. In a city called Yuan, lives a Smooth Skin girl raised to be a human sacrifice of a queen for her people. Isra is her name. Blind from the tender age of four, Isra spends much of her life in her tower, trapped not only by walls but also her mind. Treated as an invalid by her advisors and a disgrace by her people, Isra is a queen whose only purpose seems to be to give her blood and life to ensure the vitality of her city. That is, what she believes until she meets him.
Outside Yuan, in the windy desert lives Gem. He is one the Smooth Skins hate and fear. ‘Desert people’ whom they call the Monstrous, for their monstrous looking features. Sharp claws. Bodily scales. Ferocious growls. But beneath this facade is a gentle soul. A kind heart, with nothing monstrous about him unlike what the Smooth Skins believe. As the story develops, so does the relationship between Isra and Gem. Though he starts off as Isra’s prisoner, things don’t stay that way for long. Over time, soft-hearted Isra grows fond of Gem and an already unlikely friendship shows signs of blossoming into something more. Or does it? Is it in the slightest bit possible for the two to learn to love each other? Can love overcome hate? If so, will their love overcome the challenges ahead of them?
In all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that pulled me in the way this one did. The anticipation you’ll feel as you follow Isra and Gem’s love story is indescribable. Their story is tragic on the surface but at the same time, one that gives a whole new meaning to love. I’m not lying when I say that I can feel what the characters feel; be it the chemistry between the Gem and Isra or Needle’s (Isra’s mute maid) unspoken sadness. Account this to the way Of Beast and Beauty is written – from the POV of the characters – and the vivid, carefully selected words that made the story feel alive. Another thing I especially liked about the story was the role reversal – who imprisons who, who has the upper hand etc. It hints at the idea that sometimes, humans though without a beastly appearance, can also have a monstrous personality. And the opposite can also be true.
Below are a few line excerpts from the book, just because I liked them and wanted something to remember Of Beast and Beauty by. (You can skip this part if you want to.)
Maybe the mind of the majority is always the healthy mind, simply by virtue of its numbers. Maybe it’s the definition of madness to believe I’m right and very one else is wrong, to find my thoughts rational and reasonable when almost the entire world finds them damaged and flawed.
I can’t leave. I can’t stay. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s right; I’ve never felt so ripped apart inside.
… But I care for Isra more than I loathe them. I… I love her. And love is stronger than hate. I believe that. I believe Isra and I can change our worlds. Together. If we are brave.
I’m not a coward. I’m a different kind of warrior, one who will fight with my heart instead of my hands, and I’ll start by telling my people the truth.
Love. The secret is love.
Gem is strong and brave and clever and good, and he makes me feel things I never dreamed I could feel, but he is also difficult and frustrating and impatient and … overwhelming. His arms feel like home, but he represents returning strange and uncertain and unknown. Loving him means gathering up all of those things, and carrying them with me. Forever. Love means being vulnerable and beholden. Love means embracing the pain I’ve been holding apart from myself for all the months I’ve waited for him. It means taking that pain and claiming it and knowing it might not be the last of the pain he’ll bring into my life.
With that, I recommend Of Beast and Beauty to the teenage audience and ages above as the storyline may be a tad too complex and slightly inappropriate for younger audiences. Oops, too bad! Haha but for me, my rating for this book is a whopping 9/10! 🙌🏻 I enjoyed every moment I spent reading this book and was throughly satisfied with the ending. Endings play an important role, don’t they? Haha!
Thank you all for reading my review of Of Beast and Beauty. Check it out if you’re interested 😊