Author: Meagan Spooner
Genre: Historical Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling, YA
Release Date: March 14th, 2017
Length: 384 pages | 9 hours 20 minutes
Source: Gifted by my current #otspsecretsister, whose identity remains a mystery
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
This is a lovely Beauty and the Beast retelling, with nods to the original tale and the Disneyfied bits. Like all good retellings, it has something to say (beyond the story itself) about life. I’m still puzzling it out, in this case- there’s something in there about yearning for more and how settling for less than what fulfills you turns you into something not quite whole, restless and unhappy. And that resonated. There was also a lot of not knowing what you want until you find it and then you aren’t fully happy without it- no big revelation moments, which kept it from being cheesy, and it puts the romance emphasis not on wooing but on knowing yourself. And THAT is something I am very in support of.
The story takes place in medieval-ish Russia, which lends an air of exoticness even though it’s a very familiar tale for most of us. And there’s a nice blending of reality and magical realism, bolstered by Beauty’s personality, which is big on “just accept what your instincts are telling you”. Makes sense, from a hunting perspective, that she’s not constantly trying to overlay a worldview onto whatever she sees, and also accounts for her dissatisfaction with those that do shut their senses in favor of their chosen construct.
Overall, I recommend it for fans of Beauty and the Beast, fairytale retellings, fierce female MCs, and fast-paced stories (I read 80% of this in one day- it’s a fast, easy read).