BOOK REVIEW – Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey JayOf Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
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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.

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.

Review:

This was the first book I’ve read that is a retelling of a fairy tale. Truthfully, I was nervous to read a story that held hints of Beauty and the Beast laced throughout the pages. Because whenever my mind thinks about that particular story, I always envision the movie by Disney. The one that filled with me with hope, love, faith that there will always be a bad guy that can be defeated and happily ever afters. And well, could I get those same feelings from this book too? I know that’s a lot to expect, and maybe even wrong to think those thoughts. But, I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I did fall for this “Beauty” and “Beast” book. It was a charming story that was filled with true love, deceit, magic, bad guys, and a world that was at times twisted and sinister. It was a lot of fun to read!

Great men aren’t afraid to do dangerous things to tip the hand of fate in their favor.

On another planet, people have been relegated to specific lifestyles. The smooth-skins live within domed cities. Their harvest, water and lifestyles are all maintained at the cost of the life of the queen or princess. Their sacrifice must be made throughout the years to pay for their safety and lifestyle within the dome. Isra is a blind Princess, whose fate has always been to be the sacrificial one. Outside of the domes, the land is in ruins. Resources are scarce and the creatures that live there are called the Monstrous. They are mutated beasts, and Gem is one of them. Gem has set out on a plan to save his kind from starvation, but in the process he is caught by the blind princess. Isra holds Gem prisoner, but as time passes, truths became known and slowly their world transitions from black and white to grey.

“You seem curious about what will happen when you die,” I whisper. “Maybe it’s time for your curiosity to be satisfied.” – Gem

Isra is not what you would expect a blind princess to be. While she is at times subdued and allows others to make choices for her, she takes risks (risks that shocked me!), she “sees” more than others give her credit, and when backed into a corner she becomes a fighter. What I loved most about Isra was how she treated others and of course her ability to get past what others couldn’t. Her interactions with Gem warmed my heart. And speaking of Gem, I loved him! I don’t care if he was a feral mutated beast, he won me over! He was bold, calculating, manipulative and his inner turmoil of struggling with what was right and wrong weighed on me and made me care for him that much deeper.

No matter how well we’ve been getting along, or how much more human Gem is than I could have dreamed a monstrous would be, it was stupid to start confessing things to him. He’s not my friend; he’s my prisoner. – Isra

Of Beast and Beauty was an entertaining page turner that I definitely recommend. The hints of the original Beauty and the Beast story were perfectly intertwined with this tale. But keep in mind that this fairy tale was so vastly different from the original, that it is impossible to compare the two. There is so much more depth to this story than I have even started to explain. The side characters are entertaining, the plot is interesting and the twist, even though I figured it out, was still exciting because of the chain events that were caused. I love that lies were spun, secrets were hidden, wrongs became rights and in the end a beautiful story was born.

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