Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Beast's Heart

The Beast's Heart

by Leife Shallcross

3 out of 5

A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast's side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast's heart.

A lonely Beast in a long-forgotten, enchanted castle is desperate for anyone to come. After a chance encounter with a lost traveller, Beast gains the company of Isabeau, a young woman who is feeling displaced with life.

I received a free copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This is a Beauty & the Beast retelling from the Beast's perspective (as if you hadn't guessed).

OK, normally I start with what I like, and work towards the stuff that didn't impress me. With this review, I'm working backwards. Maybe because I only liked the book towards the end, or maybe because the Beast's situation just annoyed me.

As I said before, this was a Beauty & the Beast retelling. We all know the basics - a smart, and beautiful young girl gets trapped in a castle by a terrifying Beast. The Beast is a rather horrible human, cursed to exist as a monster. He is temperamental, prone to fits of rage and stubbornness. Stop me if I'm wrong.

The Beast's Heart agrees for the most part. It tells you that the Beast is a cursed man, who was horrible and arrogant, and blind to the hurt he was causing others. It's tweaked slightly, in that his father was the aggressive one, and the Beast was cold-hearted and distant.
So that's what we are told about his history, and how that might affect his character...

I never felt it had any bearing the actual Beast we are following.
Along with the historical tone of the book, it made me feel like I had opened Pride & Prejudice half-way through, at the point where Darcy has overcome all of his character faults, and the reader can see what a good man he is, even if Elizabeth Bennett is still ignorant of all his good-doings.

What I'm trying to say is, we are told that the Beast has X, Y, and Z faults; but they were never displayed. He is a good chap, very thoughtful and caring towards Isabeau and his magical servants. He has flashes of stubbornness and depression, but overall he is a nice guy, and you know immediately that he wouldn't harm a fly.
I was left wondering why the Beast had been cursed in the first place.

Isabeau was a nice character. She was brought up in a wealthy family, who hit hard times. She isn't afraid of hard work, and has been shouldering a lot of the family's duties. She has a stubborn streak, and can be as morose as the Beast, so they make a perfect pair.
Overall, I found the story between Beast and Isabeau to be very dry and dull. They are both nice people, and as they are trapped within an enchanted castle, things are very repetitive.

My favourite part of the story, was Isabeau's sisters. In many stories, they are cast as lazy and spiteful, etc. But in The Beast's Heart, they are fully-rounded characters with their own desires and troubles. They do depend too much on their little sister, but once Isabeau has left, they come into their own, and find joy in their new lives.
I loved following their stories to the very end.

I was about half-way through this book, when I realised I did care what happened to the characters, and how they would work out their conflicting lives.
I came away with a somewhat fond feeling towards the book. It is really sweet, in the end, it is just a very slow builder.


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