An enticing contemporary retelling of the classic story of Sleeping Beauty. While the the handsome prince, the evil fairy, the beautiful girl and of course the spindle all appear, Sarah Pinborough’s charming and provocative spin on the story will captivate fans of the fairy tale all over again.
This review’s going to be a short one today because this book isn’t that long and I don’t know how much I have to say about it. This was just an okay read for me, which I’ll admit is a little disappointing because I’ve been eyeing this book with interest for some time now.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters in this one. It’s short and it has far too many POV’s at that length for one to really be able to empathize with any of the characters. And it’s rare that I’ll say this but I truly think the length was an issue for me with this one. If it were shorter and more tightly focused, or longer with a little more depth, I think it would have worked much better for me. Maybe part of the point was keeping the characters at a distance–most of them don’t even get names, after all–but I think in order for me to enjoy something I need to connect to the characters in some way–I need to care what happens to them–and that just didn’t happen here. It’s a shame because I loved the concept–I wish had been able to become more invested in things. I think at one point I may have been rooting for the Beast, at least they were interesting (if a bit cannibalistic).
One thing I did love is the way Pinborough mashed up various fairy tales, twisting them to create a new narrative that somehow still made perfect sense. I appreciated the way she wove them all together, it felt pretty seamless and it was fun to see these familiar tales getting a new spin on them. I especially love what she did with Beauty and the Beast here, it felt original and I loved it, it was just a really clever way make that story something completely new. The other thing she did that I loved is bring some darkness into the story. I wish things had taken a turn for the dark sooner in fact–those parts were exquisitely written and had such an intriguing atmosphere to them, I wish that atmosphere had carried throughout the rest of the writing. It put me in mind of Tanith Lee’s work in some regards, but it never quite reached her levels of atmospheric prose.
Overall, this was an entertaining read and if it was a bit uneven in atmosphere and lacking in character depth it made up for that with cleverness and originality. I’ll definitely check out more of this author’s work. 3/5 stars.
14 thoughts on “Book Review: Beauty by Sarah Pinborough”
Aww, that’s a shame. I love these stories – which is unusual because short stories aren’t usually my thing but the twisted nature of these and the way they all eventually interlock just really worked for me – plus I do love Pinborough. Fortunately she does write a variety of different styles so you might like something else of hers. 13 Minutes for example?
Yeah, I’m disappointed because I really thought I’d love this one! There were some great elements but as a whole it didn’t work for me. I do think I might like some of her other stuff though so I’m still going to check out some of her other things.
It’s not often you find a book that’s caught in the middle for length but it can really alter the enjoyment of a reading experience. Great post Lisa!
Thanks! Yeah, usually length is not an issue for me but it just didn’t work for me with this one unfortunately.
I’m not sure I’d pick this up, especially since I think of this author as a mystery writer. Also I didn’t realize these were short stories!
I’m keen to try some of her other stuff, I think her mystery works might hit better with me.
Huh, sorry it didn’t work out for you! It does seem to have some problems with length and character development.
I’m really disappointed because I thought I would love it too.
Hmm, I’ll borrow it from the library then. I’ve been curious about it and have wanted to read it for a while now because I like the cover.
Same! I’m kind of glad this one was a library loan. You might like this one, it just didn’t work out for me, unfortunately.
Much as I love short stories – they are perfect for those times when I want to read but am unable to commit to a full novel – these sound plagued with little depth, which saddens me because I love what I read by Sarah Pinborough. Still, I’m curious enough to maybe give this one a spin one of these days… Thanks for sharing! 🙂
I think the way she wove the stories together was interesting but I just couldn’t feel anything for the characters one way or another. I’m still going to try some of her other work though!
Great. An honest review.
Love you dear