by M.J. Haag3 out of 5
Benella is concerned with two things-avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.
When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn't one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.
A classic fairy tale with a new twist, the Beauty and the Beast saga begins with Depravity.
Intended for mature readers due to sexual situations and moderate language.
Benella knows that anyone caught trespassing on the old estate can be punished by death. So why does the beast keep showing her mercy?
This book started off brilliantly.
Benella lives in a small village, in which everyone struggles to afford the basic necessities. Benella helps her poor father - a hard-working teacher - by scavenging wild roots and mushrooms; and hunting rabbits in the forest. It's the least she can do after a lifetime of love and support.
Her two sisters work just as hard, but they are a little more selfish in their efforts; one wishes to attract a wealthy man; the other wants to become a successful seamstress.
After she witnesses something that could devastate their mother's honour, two of the young men in the village start to make Benella's life hell, including throwing her to the beast.
I was hooked, I felt sorry for Benella, and frustrated with her selfish sisters. I was intrigued by the enchanted estate, the intelligent plants and trees, the mysterious witch.
But then there were a few little things that niggled me.
I was never afraid of the beast. Everyone says that he's terrible, violent etc etc; and sure, we see the clawed mess of his house; and he shouts and growls a bit....
Maybe that says more about my expectations than Haag's interpretation of the Beast. I'm not about to go up and pat him, but judging him by what happens in this book - he's not the stuff of nightmares.
And Benella got a bit irritating, as Haag tried to portray her as naturally more intelligent than those around her. There were times when the dialogue was stilted because it tried to sound cleverer than necessary.
Or when she assumes a very logical and analytical viewpoint when dealing with the Whispering Sisters (basically naked geishas). She's so completely detached about spending time with them, and learning from them, with no real aim.
Then it all started to get a bit repetitive. Find food, meet beast, horrid sisters, find food, meet beast, hard-working dad. It's a circle of the same questions, with no real drive to get any answers. Even though it's less than 200 pages, it felt long-winded; eventually ending with how Benella ends up in the beast's home.