A darker, more adult version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ – in this retelling of the famous fairy tale Beauty a.k.a Benella is a teenager who not only has to feed her father and two unscrupulous sisters but also fend off attacks from two smith’s sons and a certain lascivious baker.
She can find more food near the Beast’s haunted house but it is a risk as it always comes with a price. Overall the encounters with the Beast himself are never safe. Finally poor Benella is tossed into his property one time too many – what the Beast will do this time?
One day I visited Carole Rae’s blog and found her review of this one. I got interested immediately as I’ve always liked clever, twisted retelling of old fairy tales. Carole also mentioned that the e-book was at that time available for free on Amazon and, to my utter surprise, I managed to buy it for 0 $ as well (usually I am too late but that time somehow my luck held 🙂 ).
First of all I liked the cover – it gives off the right vibes even though that girl, properly groomed and with a distinct make-up, is definitely not an image of the main female lead I had in mind while reading the book. Speaking of reading: to my surprise I finished this one in one sitting – the narrative (Benella’s POV) was skillfully done even if not especially fancy. Still take the content warning from Goodreads rather seriously: it is indeed something intended for mature readers with such scenes as rape/rape attempt and the goings-on inside a whorehouse. Somehow I didn’t mind, for me it made the story even more grounded if you know what I mean, without that completely unreal cheerfulness which seems to be the favourite flavour of Disney. No, there will be no dancing candlesticks and teapots even if the author does feature some magical creatures; still they aren’t exactly dancing ;).
I liked the best the fact that the baddies weren’t exactly limited to poor Benella’s tormentors. Her two sisters would put sisters of Cinderella to shame – they were callous, greedy and completely unaware of their own shortcomings. Why? Here my problems started. I missed a good, convincing answer to that question because Benella’s daddy was an angel full of sunshine and rainbows. Perhaps her prematurely demised mom was such a selfish creature, who knows? The Beast was simply the beast – but with a potential.
The biggest flaw? World building. I was never told why inhabitants of Benella’s village lacked coin so badly. I was never told who ruled the country and whether magic was appreciated or despised. Maybe in the next part everything will become clearer.
The book ended with Benella being left in the manor of the Beast permanently. Even if I know what to expect I would love to read the second part. 🙂