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Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
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Beast (2000)

by Donna Jo Napoli

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6602114,562 (3.47)21
  1. 30
    Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (_Zoe_)
    _Zoe_: I find McKinley's takes on Beauty and the Beast much more satisfying than Napoli's.
  2. 20
    Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley (_Zoe_)
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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Well, it's well-written, the plot is just something I can't get behind.

An honourable, sensitive Persian prince who refuses to hunt because he hates hurting animals is punished for making the wrong decision when it came time for him to sacrifice a camel (it wasn't choosing between whether or not to sacrifice an animal, that wasn't an option - it was *which* camel to sacrifice). The dead camel's spirit then haunts him, promising his father would kill him the next day (this camel sucks at making prophecies, because that didn't really even come close to happening) and later tells him that the curse (him being turned into a lion) couldn't be undone unless a woman loved him...what the fuck does that have to do with his supposed transgression that led to him being punished? As a lion, the prince proceeds to engage in lion orgies (WTF?), contemplates kidnapping a lion cub so he could raise it up to be a mate (WTF?) and then, when he gets to France (long, convoluted, pointless story) he orders a rose thief to bring him his youngest daughter - again, so he can "raise" her to be his mate (he thinks/expects/hopes she's much younger than she actually is). WTF?

Essentially, the sensitive, kind, honourable prince is "taught his lesson" by turning him into someone who practices bestiality, contemplated pedophilia, kidnaps children, and kills animals without remorse. ( )
  benuathanasia | Jun 23, 2017 |
This is probably the best book about bestiality I've ever read. Probably. Okay, just kidding, it's the only one (so far).

Yeah, I really don't know what to say for myself here. I'm not a fan of romance novels in the slightest. I grabbed this off my girlfriend's shelf (she hasn't read it) basically on a whim. I wanted to try reading something outside my comfort zone. As an aspiring author I've heard that's a thing I should do.

And...I liked it. I'm just as surprised as anybody, believe me. I can immediately see the things that would stop other people from liking it though. Let's review them.

1) It's about bestiality. I mean, the protagonist bones two female lions in the first third of it and then tries to start a romance with a human woman while he's still very much a freaking lion. It is what it is. Obviously this makes some people very uncomfortable. Some of the reviews here are are so full of outrage about this that I just can't help but laugh. Is it really any weirder than being in a serial killer's head while reading Dexter? Sure, it's an odd choice to turn into a whole novel, but it's a take on Beauty and the Beast, so it's not like the bestiality was the primary inspiration. Also it was done well, so that's really all that matters. She paints a vivid picture of what a man getting accustomed to a lion's body would feel like, and I was pretty impressed by that. Getting to be in a character's head, especially in first-person viewpoint, while they are in the body of an animal is kind of a rare thing I hadn't come across anywhere but short stories before.

If it makes you uncomfortable, don't read it. Or do read it, and also lots of other messed up books, and maybe venture into the darkest reaches of the internet while you're at it because you are super sheltered and need to desensitize yourself if you ask me. I, honestly, just found it kind of funny. I mean, how can you not? He turns into a lion and pretty much the first thing he does is bone not one, but two female lions! TWO! He emptied those lion nuts post-haste. He didn't even get a chance to eat anything first.

2) The author likes to use specific cultural/religious terminology and define it in the same sentence. This happens most often at the very beginning, and it's a little much. It definitely gets better the further in you get though. I mostly skimmed over it, but I also kind of liked it at the same time. It did a nice job of pulling you into that world, and It made me feel like I was learning something. Since I already have a fondness for this culture and setting maybe I'm biased. But hey, if you find it annoying then you find it annoying. That's all there really is to it, and I totally get it. But, to be fair, the author's afterword mentions that Orasmyn would've written the whole thing in Arabic anyway. I just imagined it was the way somebody chose to translate the story into English from his original text and that made sense to my brain.

3) Everything is very convenient. The reason the protagonist is turned into a lion, for instance. Some may cry "overly apparent plot device." To me, it just combined with the language of the novel and the setting to make it seem like a lengthy fairy tale, and I love fairy tales more than just about anything. This seemed like a story straight out of Arabian Nights, and that was pretty awesome.

So, to recap, don't read this book if you: are uncomfortable with bestiality, hate smatterings of unnecessary foreign words, or hate overly convenient plots.

Do read if you: like fairy tales, or if you like Persian and Indian culture in fiction.

Simple, right? ( )
1 vote ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
A retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast, told from the Beast's perspective. (it's also told in present tense, which I found rather distracting - but overall, it was quite good, although not as good as the other book I've read by Napoli, 'Zel'.)
Here, the Beast is a young Persian prince. Inadvertently, is crosses a peri, who curses him that his father will kill him the next day. The next day, his father has a lion hunt planned - and the prince realizes that he has physically become a lion.
He manages to avoid being killed, and hopes that the curse will wear off, but it doesn't - and he learns that his only hope is to have a woman love him for who he is, without knowing that he is under an enchantment. He finds that to be hopeless, so he simply goes in search of a place where he could live as a lion, without the danger inherent in staying in his father's hunting park.
In an unlikely and quickly-skipped-over journey, he gets from Persia to France, and finds an abandoned castle (which mystifyingly, still has lots of useful stuff in it), and from there, the story-as-we've-heard-it basically ensues... ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Interesting twist on the classic Beauty & the Beast tale - told from the Beast's POV ( )
  WonderlandGrrl | Jan 29, 2016 |
An all-time favorite for me!!!

This is probably one of my more favorite "Beauty & the Beast" retelling and I include it in my core collection of fairytales and their spinoffs.

The author does a good job of taking two cultures to weave together while the story is so realistic you can almost believe that this is really the way it happened. You find so much feelings going through you and then you read the end, which is not really an end. ( )
  flamingrosedrakon | Aug 26, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donna Jo Napoliprimary authorall editionscalculated
Olbinski, RafalIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ramirez, RobertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Cylin Busby, as she makes the journey for love
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I gasp roughly.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689870051, Mass Market Paperback)

In a narrative as glittering and richly detailed as a Persian miniature, Donna Jo Napoli interprets and amplifies the tale of Beauty and the Beast with startling originality. We've seen her keen psychological insights, surprising viewpoints, and clever twists on traditional fairy tales in previous novels: Hansel and Gretel in The Magic Circle, Rapunzel in Zel, Jack and the Beanstalk in Crazy Jack, and Rumpelstiltskin in Spinners. Here she uses the intriguing setting of ancient Persia in a glorious retelling of the now-Disneyfied favorite--a bold undertaking with which authors from Robin McKinley to Francesca Lia Block have also challenged themselves.

Napoli, however, brings a fresh slant to the story through the eyes of the Beast, Prince Orasmyn, who has been transformed by a curse into a lion--and can only be redeemed by the love of a woman. From this four-footed perspective, the young prince struggles to learn how to survive as a beast while retaining his humanity in devotion to Islamic moral principles. Fleeing his father's hunting park, he travels as an animal across Asia to France, where he at last finds an abandoned chateau. There, using paws and jaws, he plants a rose garden and prepares the castle for the woman he hopes will come to love him. Enter the merchant, the plucked rose, the brave Beauty, and the story wends to its traditional end--but this time with compassion and a new vividness. Into this sumptuous tapestry Napoli has woven a wealth of lore about Persian literature, the tenets of Islam, rose culture, animal behavior--even a leonine mating scene. This level of detail makes for a leisurely pace and a novel that may be more appropriate for older teens who are willing to savor the journey rather than the destination. After all, we all know how the story ends. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Elaborates on the tale of "Beauty and the Beast," told from the point of view of the beast and set in Persia.Meet the Beast -- before there was Beauty Orasmyn is the prince of Persia and heir to the throne. His religion fills his heart and his mind, and he strives for the knowledge and leadership his father demonstrates. But on the day of the Feast of Sacrifices, Orasmyn makes a foolish choice that results in a fairy's wretched punishment: He is turned into a beast, a curse to be undone only by the love of a woman. Thus begins Orasmyn's journey through the exotic Middle East and sensuous France as he struggles to learn the way of the beast, while also preserving the mind of the man. This is the story of his search, not only for a woman courageous enough to love him, but also for his own redemption.… (more)

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