Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Tale As Old As Time || Of Beast and Beauty - Stacey Jay

It makes me extremely happy to be able to welcome my friend Racquel onto the blog today. She's doing a guest review on the blog as part of our A Tale As Old As Time event celebrating Beauty and the Beast. I haven't yet read Of Beast & Beauty, but I certainly want to after this ringing endorsement. Check out what R had to say!

[Note: This review is formatted in the style that Racquel and Sharon use at The Book Barbies. You can find their rating system on their blog!]

Title: Of Beast & Beauty
Author:
Published July 23, 2013 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: A
Goodreads summary:

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.

Nothing could have truly prepared for how absolutely spectacular Of Beast & Beauty is or how amazing Stacey Jay's writing is. It's very airy and lyrical. You know you're reading a fairytale retelling because even if Of Beast & Beauty has horrifying parts (and it does because this is a dark retelling and I LOVE that!), there was still a certain magical quality of the book that is addicting. This is my first Stacey Jay book, but it will definitely not be my last.

Of Beast & Beauty has one of my all time favorite things in books EVER: an alternating 1st POV between the two main characters, Beauty and the Beast (and in this book's case, a third very minor one but it actually works). So we get alternating chapters between Gem and Isra and AHHH, I loved it!!! This way of narration is my favorite but Stacey Jay brings life to both characters in their own POV and it was actually very necessary to see both sides.

+Isra is our Beauty. But wait... Isra is BLIND and she doesn't view herself as a beauty. She describes her skin as coarse and dry and she's larger than the rest of her people. But she's still a princess. Reading about Isra was amazing. I loved reading about how she dealt with her princess status and her blindness. Especially since Isra was very strong and commanding in her own right. I LOVED her.

+Gem is our Beast and he's an actual Beast! A Beast who's an actual Beast! He has claws, fur and scales and I'm so impressed that the author braved giving us an actual Beast! But Gem is not the only "beast". He's part of the Monstrous People who've adapted to the world after it has been cursed. The Monstrous People are seen as savages by the Smooth People (normal people like Isra) and I loved learning more about them. Especially through Isra's eyes as she peeled through the legends about the Monstrous People and learned the truth.

+The world: a million thumbs up to Stacey Jay for the excellent world building. The world this fantasy is set in is very complex and unique. You who the Monstrous People and the Smooth People . The "Smooth People" live in a domed like kingdom and this is VERY interesting because Cruel Beauty, another Beauty & the Beast retelling, also has this domed theme. I found that cool because what are the odds?! The world beyond the domed kingdom and also the matters inside the kingdom was all just so well written.

+The Beauty & the Beast retelling: I doubt I'll read many Beauty and the Beast retellings that will top Of Beast & Beauty. The writing was absolutely beautiful, the characters were wonderful, the story, world and romance all engaging. This is seriously one of the best retellings I can wish to read. You have a beast who's a actually a Beast but Jay takes her on spin on the retelling with a blind Beauty and evil roses. Yup. You read that right! The roses are kind of their own character and they're evil and corrupt. It was a very cool spin and major round of applause to Stacey Jay for the awesome world building waved into a fantastic retelling.

+The romance: swoony, swoony, SWOONY. Well this is a beauty and the beast retelling so it's bound to be swoony but Stacey Jay DELIVERS. You have a Beauty who can't even see this Beast but she feels his differences and has thousands of prejudices against him, and you have this Beast who views the Beauty as a privileged princess with his own stereotypes. But they get closer and learn each other and OH MY HEART. This might be a YA book only but the kissing scenes were out of this world. Seriously, be still my heart.

All in all, this book earned its spot on my favorites shelf and I hope your rushing to your library/bookstore/an online retailer to get your own copy so you can experience how amazing this book is.

Rating: [A] One of the best Beauty and the Beast retellings? I think YES.

This review was posted as part of A Tale as Old as Time.

6 comments:

  1. I really loved this book and the way it took the idea of "the beast" and kind of turned it on its head. Great review!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  2. How have I not heard of this?! I love the changes Stacey Jay made, and I'm super interested in reading more about her worldbuilding and the evil roses - how can roses be evil??

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  3. Awesome review, Racquel! I absolutely LOVE Stacey Jay and was blown away by this book as well. But it seems like no one else is reading it, which makes me sad because it's so good! I'm so happy you loved it too :) Great review!

    -Jessica (Peace Love Books)

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  4. AHH, I LOVED THIS BOOK! Awesome review, Racquel! For some reason, I want to call you Rocky... O_o. Stacey Jay is such a fierce writer. I have yet to dislike any of her books.

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  5. Okay you make me want to read this! glad that hte world building is great - love when it's done well! and you know I always love swoon. :)

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  6. I absolutely love a good, swoony romance! I'm glad that this book has that. :) I haven't read this one yet, but I love the idea that the beast is an actual beast and the beauty is blind. Those are uncommon main characters, so that'll make reading the book really interesting! Great review. :)

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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