Okay, so this review is for another brilliant retelling! I feel like this might just be the year of retellings at this rate, but I’ve yet to read one that’s let me down so far and so I’m not complaining about that one bit! This was a beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast, from the perspective of the Beast instead!
Title: The Beast’s Heart
Author: Leife Shallcross
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: 3rd May 2018
Source: eARC provided through NetGalley by Hodder & Stoughton (this in no way affects my review which is honest and unbiased)
‘A sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.
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.
Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.‘
This book was such a magical read for me, when it comes to fairytales then Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favourites – I was hooked on the Disney version as a child! Leife’s take on the tale is so unique that at times it’s difficult to remember that this is a retelling of a classic.
Instead of the common take of Beauty/Belle’s point of view (in this story, her name is Isabeau), The Beast’s Heart is from the perspective of the Beast himself. The story starts with us seeing how he’s been alone for far too long, and instantly you can’t help but feel sorry for him. Even when we finally see Isabeau’s father stumble upon his home, we see that all he wants is for human company after centuries of isolation.
Of course, the usual trick occurs whereby the Beast gets Isabeau to come to the castle, but we read from his perspective and see that he wouldn’t have acted on his threats to her father. We even see that he genuinely regrets the way he acts at times, furthermore ensuring that we truly see the humanity within.
Leife also tells us about Isabeau’s sisters, Claude and Marie, and how them and her father are faring whilst she lives with the Beast. She uses the enchanted mirror in the Beast’s home to show this, and it really helped with the story’s development on the whole and also with showing how Isabeau felt without changing the point of view of the story. The sisters were also just so sweet that it was great to see how they were handling Isabeau being away.
And Isabeau! She was such a great character, I love how Leife made her strong and caring. During the times when she refused to marry the Beast I found myself wanting to shout at her to tell her to stop being stubborn. They have such a sweet relationship where she plays music for him, he reads for her and, owing to the magic of the house, they have times they’re able to just watch fireworks and beam at each other.
I think reading from the Beast’s point of view also really helps you see why Isabeau falls for him, Leife is able to really show his personal journey and make it the most intriguing part about the story. Although this doesn’t really pick up pace until the last parts of the story the rest is still written in such a lovely and lyrical way that you can’t help but love it.
Absolutely a 5 star read, and I’d love to see more novels of a similar fashion from Leife in the future!
In the UK? Order this book from Book Depository for free delivery!
About the Author
‘Leife Shallcross lives at the foot of a mountain in Canberra, Australia, with her family and a small, scruffy creature that snores. She has a tendency to overindulge in reading fairy tales, then lie awake at night listening to trolls (or maybe possums) galloping over her tin roof. Ever since she can remember, she has been fascinated by stories about canny fairy godmothers, heroic goose girls and handsome princes disguised as bears. She is particularly inspired by those characters that tend to fall into the cracks of the usual tales. She is the author of several short stories, including Pretty Jennie Greenteeth, which won the 2016 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Short Story. The Beast’s Heart is her first novel.‘
Source: Hodder & Stoughton’s website
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