I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.
I am the Beast.
The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.
My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.
My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.
And now I might lose her forever.
Ahhh, I really loved this book. I actually totally meant to go to bed but stayed up until 3am finishing it. (Thank goodness that was on a Saturday night, phew!) I’m predisposed toward retellings, and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites so I had high expectations for this and wasn’t let down.
If you are a BatB fan, I think there’s something here for you to enjoy. This is a retelling from the Beast’s perspective. Here, he is a much more sympathetic character. Those familiar with the tale, well, it sticks fairly close to the bones of things but there are a few changes here and there, mostly to show the Beast in a better light–such as his wavering about and then instant regret at demanding for the trespasser’s daughter to be brought to him. He is cursed but he doesn’t remember why, later when it’s revealed, the motivation for the curse is quite different from the usual story, which left me feeling even more sad that he was even cursed in the first place.
I really loved spending time in the Beast’s head. He’s spent too long as a beast and has to find his humanity again–you feel his utter loneliness and despair coming off every page. His want and yearning for company and any little scrap of affection is most poignant. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for characters exhibiting emotions like this–it’s a sure bet for tugging my heartstrings. Despite any melancholia, the Beast was a joy to spend time with. He always had Isabeau in the forefront of his mind and was careful to allow everything to be her decision–whether to stay, whether to spend time with him, whether to come back to him. He was still a little bit of the selfish Beast of old in some ways, in trying to break the curse once he knew how it worked. But, in the end, even that turned out not to be just motivated by his want to be rid of his beastly self, but out of love for Isabeau and his true desire to marry her.
Because everything is from the Beast’s perspective, we don’t get much of a glimpse into Isabeau at all. This did feel a little bit restrictive and I’m not sure why because I’ve read a lot of books that are from one perspective before. Maybe because I’m so used to this tale being told from the other side. Or maybe because I really wanted to know what she was thinking! The Beast spends so much time in the dark about what she’s thinking, so we are subjected to that as well. I do like that they decide to be better at communicating with each other at one point, but even then Isabeau seems to hold back some things until the end. Perhaps because she didn’t want to admit things to herself. I would have liked to spend more time really with her character but as a narrative it makes sense.
The pacing on this is slower and usually that will make me loose interest in a book, but because this tale was so filled with emotions and the wonderful magic of the cursed manor it seemed like the story just flew right by for me. The prose in this was lovely as well, and helped to create a fantastic tone and atmosphere–at times haunting but still filled with wonder. I loved the magic and how it worked in this. I think it’s one of those things you just have to go with and not think too hard about….magic is as magic does.
It was a joy to spend time with this book and I have no regrets for the lack of sleep it caused. 4.5/5 stars.