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Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa…
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Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge

by Lisa Jensen

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Content Warning: graphic rape scene

I tried really, really hard to like this. I usually love retellings, and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. In the end, this book didn’t work for me for a number of reasons.

Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, is cruel. And Lucie, a servant-girl, suffers at his hand. When she runs into a wisewoman, her wish is granted: the chevalier will suffer. He is turned into a monstrous Beast. And yet…the beast is kind-hearted, soft, patient, and remorseful, and Lucie feels herself starting to hope. Until a young woman arrives at the château, with the power to break the curse.

This was definitely an interesting take on the old tale, but it also didn’t seem that different from the original. The setting was quite similar to the original story, and the story itself wasn’t that different either. Nevertheless, I liked the twists that the book did have.

The rape scene was disturbing, but I also just didn’t quite get the purpose of it otherwise. It seemed almost as if it was used as a plot device, for the main character to feel enough emotion to set the curse in motion. It was mentioned briefly at the end when things were being explained, but in the bigger picture, it just seemed unnecessary.

Overall, the writing style just wasn’t for me. Some reviewers have called it lyrical, and while I can see that, it dragged out for me. While it definitely fits the setting and time period of the story, I just wasn’t engaged by it. ( )
  CatherineHsu | Dec 30, 2018 |
Beast is an interesting twist on the familiar story of Beauty and the Beast. At times the main character presents as unsure of herself yet turns to be seen as a character whom is powered by revenge followed by jealousy. All in all Beast is a good read. ( )
  Preston.Kringle | Nov 21, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
2.5-2.75 Stars
An adaptation of one of my favorite stories that's quite dark with some unlikable characters. The beginning is brutal, the middle section drags on at times, but at least the ending is a little better. Not for the faint of heart or readers expecting something lighter. The cover art is gorgeous though.

LT Early Reviewer ( )
  LibStaff2 | Nov 12, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This review and others posted over at my blog.

I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for my honest review.

Once again, Jensen wowed me with her retelling. I was worried Beast wouldn’t live up to the expectations her previous novel, Alias Hook, set and I was so wrong! While Beast isn’t as dark, and has a vague YA feel about it, it was just as moving and engrossing as Alias Hook!

Inspired by a quote from Greta Garbo, who supposedly cried “Give me back my Beast!” after watching the Jean Cocteau film, Jensen turns the traditional tale sideways. The prince, or Chevalier, is still handsome and cruel – after he rapes Lucie she vows revenge – and he’s still turned into a hideous beast. Only this time, the beast is almost instantly a different person. He doesn’t have to learn to be kind and appears to forget his human past. When the beauty shows up after her father traditionally steals the rose, she now threatens to break the spell and revert the kind beast back to the cruel Chevalier. Lucie must do what she can to prevent that – only she’s been transformed by the spell too. I won’t say how; this part took me completely by surprise when I was reading and it was wonderfully done.

If you’re worried, the rape scene isn’t overly graphic, but that doesn’t make it easy to read. The aftermath of the traumatic is fraught with just as much, if not more, emotion. Lucie feels a constant, secret shame about what was done to her, though it wasn’t by any means her fault.

“I speak to no one, and no further notice is taken of me. I try to believe that if I’m quiet enough, insignificant enough, someday I might disappear altogether, like the dew off a rose. I will escape my memory, my shame, even my flesh, and the torment of my life will end. I pray for that moment.”

Her shame and guilt drive her to drown herself, though she’s unsuccessful. This is how she meets the wise woman who helps exact her revenge.

“He has taken a great deal from you, my dear. Don’t let him have the rest. Prove you have the stronger heart and survive.”

Lucie does just that.

The tone lightens somewhat after that. Once the Chevalier and Lucie are transformed, Lucie’s perspective on the beast and herself changes. She was a mousy, plain girl before, who didn’t think much of herself (though she wasn’t overly negative.) After her transformation, she considers herself beautiful and strong.

“I am strong, as I never was before. I am here to show him what he has become.”

Her outlook on the entire situation was a refreshing one, yet another spin Jensen puts on the familiar tale. The story focuses more on the successful transformations of the two main characters, rather than the beast and his beauty pining for what he once was. Yet again, Jensen created an immersive story and characters that were easy to care about. Or, well, loathe, in the case of the Chevalier.

I loved every page of this book. From the surprising transformation of Lucie to the emotional transformation of the beast to the interruption caused by beautiful Rose – Jensen kept me guessing what would happen next and praying that my ship would sail.

I can’t wait for more from Jensen! I’ll leave you with an abbreviated quote:

“That’s the sort of story folk love – a clear moral, a happy ending. It comforts them to think the barriers between virtue and evil, love and hate, beauty and beast, are so clearly defined…Happily ever after takes hard work, but folk don’t like to hear about that.”

I highly recommend this if:

+You enjoy darker retellings
+You like your love stories with a side of revenge
+You enjoy books that fall into the rare, magical gap between YA and adult ( )
  MillieHennessy | Nov 5, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite Disney movie and story and I know that it has a lot of issues. Disney sugarcoats a lot of things and that is why we love them as kids. This book is a retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast story. It is much darker and more violent than I was expecting. My very first note to potential readers is - trigger warning -.

This book pretty much jumps right in and there is a rape it is not very detailed but it still feels very graphic and is very emotional, this is the set up for the whole tale. Lucie goes to the Château for her safety, so that her stepfather doesn't see how much of a woman she is now. She works in the Château for a while to find herself infatuated with its owner, Jean-Loup. The terrible deed happens and we are thrown into the magic that is the modern tale - a man enchanted to a Beast, but what this tale did differently is that he is changed because of Lucie's anguish and need for revenge and she is also enchanted as a candlestick - set to watch his depression and downfall.

Aside from the initial shock of the beginning of this book, I think that it was beautifully done. Lucie's emotions were strong and drove the story forward. It was both hard to read from her point of view but very direct and that is what this story was - direct and in your face. Lucie was tormented and got to watch her tormentor, but then also got to see him change into something more. The author did wonders with the change as well. I will not go into too much detail because I don't want to spoil anything, but I was so afraid that this change would lead to Lucie going back on her feelings and the whole 'love you anyway' trope but the ending was much better than that.

It was a very moving book and story and I really liked this retelling of the classic. It is emotional and deep, and the ending was creative. ( )
  sszkutak | Sep 10, 2018 |
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