Of Beast and Beauty – Stacey Jay

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.

As you may have guessed from the title, Of Beast and Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Disney’s Beauty and Beast was my favorite movie growing up so any kind of retelling always sparks my interest, and this book didn’t disappoint!

The beginning of the story starts off very Fairytale Esque, giving us a background to the story before the story about our main character begins:

“IN the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret. The secret was as old as the cracked cobblestone streets of Yuan, as peculiar as the roses that bloom eternally within the domed city’s walls, as poisonous as forgotten history and the stories told in its place”

The thing I liked most about this story is that it didn’t always follow the traditional storyline of Beauty and the Beast. For one thing, it’s set on a completely different planet, and it seems its the essence of the planet that has cursed the people living on it. I could never really decide who was beauty and who was the beast because at times both Gem and Irsa could have been either. And the Roses, evil completely evil! They feed on human blood and in exchange keep the city of Yuan flourishing.

The story is told from 3 characters perspectives, Isra, Gem, and Bo.

Isra:

I really liked the character development of Isra, she begins as a sheltered and naive but by the end of the story, she is a warrior! I liked that from the start of the book she never really feared Gem even though he’s a Monstrous from the desert.

Gem: 

I loved Gem, we learn that he is trying to save is tribe from starvation, he has a brother and father and child with a woman who chose another as her mate and through the stories he tells Isra we see that his way of life is extremely different from hers.

Bo

Not gonna sugar coat it, I didn’t like Bo one little bit. It seems he is supposed to be the Gaston of this story and while he didn’t have as much arrogance as you would usually see from this type of character he was still a conniving git, with almost no backbone. I get why some of the story was told from his point of view there were things we wouldn’t have found out otherwise, but even so, I didn’t enjoy these parts.

Overall if you’re looking for a good standalone story and you like re-tellings of fairytales I recommend you give this book ago. I really loved the twist in this story and in my opinion is probably one of the best retellings of Beauty and The Beast I’ve come across

My Rating 4/5