REVIEW: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

9 Jan

Read as part of the Fairytale Retelling Challenge hosted by The Daily Prophecy.

Title: Of Beast and Beauty
Author: Stacey Jay
Rating:

SYNOPSIS

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.

MY THOUGHTS

Oh my Gosh! Sweet holy mother of amazing fairytale retellings!

Such amazing writing. Such captivating descriptions. Such beautiful wording.

Do you ever have those moments when a friend convinces you to try something new and at first you’re like “No, thanks.” But once you try it you wonder how it is you lived your life without ever experiencing something so life-changingly amazing?
I can’t believe it took me this long to start reading fairytale retellings. What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like the late bloomer or the loser who found out she can take pictures with her phone…in 2015. I’ve been missing out.

I’m sure you’re with me when I say Disney’s Beauty and The Beast is a magical classic. We love that masterpiece. Belle is one of the few Disney Princess who doesn’t make me what to burf. She was a freaking bookworm, for bibliophile’s sake! I love her.

Isra is no Belle. Isra is…well, she’s Isra. No, there are no talking teapots and teacups. Not that anyone was expecting that. Lol

This was one amazing read, from start to finish. A true page turner that I failed to put down once I started it. You can imagine how productive my day has been with my nose swallowed up in this beautiful fairytale.

From page one I was invited into Yuan and it’s surrounding desert where there is a secret to be uncovered around each corner. I loved every second of it. It’s a world where beauty isn’t all beauty and beast isn’t all beast.

“Beauty is wherever you find it, and beast is there when you need to defend it.”– Of Beast and Beauty.

The noble citizens of Yuan are dark at heart and treat their own citizens like animals…all because they exhibit ‘monstrous’ traits. Classic judging and mistreating of people because they are different from you. So archaic.

The city is built and thrives on ancient dark magic that requires a human sacrifice. I don’t know how much I can talk about without it turning out to be a full “spoiler alert” moment.

I loved the characterisation in this book. Loveable and great main characters you won’t help but care about. Isra and Gem were so alike and yet so different. Both had experienced loss and both were oblivious to just how wrong their view of the world was.
Isra started out as someone who doubted herself and believed wholeheartedly in what the she grew up being told. The monstrous (desert people) are evil, poison-wielding murderers who live for nothing but death and violence. She believed anyone with a corrupt soul was tainted and start mutating too.

I absolutely adored Gem. He was strong, he was a warrior and everything that I wanted from ‘beast’. I loved reading from his POV.

The author highlighted the issue of outside beauty and inner beauty so well. How a beautiful face can house a monstrous heart and a dark soul. How somebody’s appearance never really shows who they really are.

I particularly enjoyed how the author took liberties with the story, the twists and turns were amazing and I was engrossed as I moved from page to page. Instead of Beauty being held captive, we have the beast as a prisoner. That was a welcome change.

There were parts where it got so dark and grey that I almost forgot what light was. As the pages turned and I drunk up more words, each new discovery felt like it was tugging at my heart, making me feel things I shouldn’t be feeling. Stirring up emotions in me that bubbled up and fought to erupt to the surface until I was a puddle of “the feels”.

But I did. I did. Now I feel like such a weanie for admitting that.
The writing in this book was so beautiful, it was almost lyrical and poetic. I have to mention that. It’s not often that I read YA books written like this one. It made me think of Laini Taylor as I read (I love her work).

Isra and Gem’s blossoming relationship was enjoyable to read about. It was nice to have some light and cute moments in a world with so much loss and sacrifice. I found it funny how they were confused about what they were feeling to the point that they kept denying and trying to push it away. Trying to ignore the inevitable.

All in all, if you love Beauty and the Beast, this is a must read. It might not have much of the original elements but the ones that remain were enough for me to dish out a 5 star rating.

What’s the latest fairytale retelling you read? Do tell me.

Follow me on twitter Dee@The perks

-Dee

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5 Responses to “REVIEW: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay”

  1. otakutwins1 January 10, 2015 at 1:49 am #

    My sister loves fairy tale retellings, and since you speak so highly of it, I’ll have to recommend it to her ^^! She recently began reading The Lunar Chronicles and absolutely loves it!!! Thanks for the review 😀

    • Dee January 10, 2015 at 8:45 am #

      You should tell me if she likes it. Don’t kill me if she hates it 😀

      I hear great things about The Lunar Chronicles, will get myself a copy one of these days.

      You aren’t a fan of retellings yourself, huh?

      • otakutwins1 January 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

        Oh no, I like them, I just think it’s right up my sisters alley ^^

      • Dee January 10, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

        Oh, of course. Recently just started myself 🙂

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  1. Fairytale Retelling Challenge | The Perks Of Being A Book Lover - January 9, 2015

    […] Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay […]

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