I grew up loving Beauty and the Beast. I have read many different versions of the tale. I have read modern adaptations and I have read different cultural adaptations. I will be talking about the book in length, so there will be spoilers.
Having Read Fairest of All, and having enjoyed it a lot, I had high hopes for The Beast Within. I was disappointed. At times it felt like I was reading bad fanfiction(and I like fanfiction, there is a lot of good fanfiction out there). Page 22 is a good example of what I am talking about.
There was a character by the name of Tulip Morningstar, that made my eyes roll. Tulip Morningstar? That was the best name the author could come up with? She was supposed to be the name for one of the love interests that the Beast meets before he meets Belle. Really? It sounded so stupid, I couldn’t take it seriously.
Circe being the witch/enchantress, a pig farmer’s daughter, and having three sisters (making me think of Macbeth) was another Wtf moment.
There were two interesting aspects.
- That the Beast despite being a Prince being forgotten is part of the curse. Although this seemed like a cope out and I wish it was fleshed out more, at least there was a definitive reason as to why everyone would forget that a prince existed near in the forest.
- The beast is haunted in the castle. Only to him does everything become fearful and dreadful. I remember watching the movie that Belle was freaked out by all the gargoyle statues and she felt like they were watching her. Well, in the book the Beast knew he was being watched and terrorized by all the terrible things surrounding him. I thought that was really cool, sadly, the author didn’t go into that with more detail.
The two most interesting parts of the whole story and the author doesn’t go into it with more detail.
Gaston was apparently best friends with the prince prior to the curse and the author kept hitting the reader over the head with how misogynistic the two guys are. Talking about not liking women who like to read, not liking women who think for themselves. We get it.
This book felt rushed at times, slow and annoying during others, and so obvious with what the author wanted the reader to feel (regarding characters), she might as well have just come out and said it instead of trying to poorly disguise it. It doesn’t feel like the author gave a crap, just wanted to write a book with Disney seal of approval and hopefully make some money and a name for herself in the process. Authors don’t force readers how to feel towards their characters, the characters should be speaking for themselves.
I was also hoping we would hear more about Belle, and get the Beast’s perspective while Belle was in the castle. Instead the perspective was all over the place. Sometimes it was the Beast, sometimes it was Tulip Morningstar (I hate that name), and sometimes it was the three annoying witches. I didn’t give a rats ass about the other characters, I cared about the Beast’s perspective. The only character that was remotely interesting (and not annoying at the same time) was Circe.
Can we also talk about the fact that the author is just setting up for the next book around page 163, and it is so obvious that the author might as well put a neon sign in the book stating that there is going to be another book involving said villain. It felt cheap, annoying and downright pathetic. We get it, you have another book coming out which means more money for you and Disney.
If it hadn’t been for the fact that I got this as a Christmas gift and I love the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast (I love many multiple versions of it, not just Disney) I would not have read beyond the first chapter. It was painful and boring to get through. I didn’t care what would happen to the characters at all.
And have I mentioned Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale. You can imagine how disappointed I was.
I would have the give the book 2.5 stars, and thats only because the two interesting aspects saved it from being a two star. It being Beauty and the Beast related and “expanding the universe” (a poor job of it) saved it from being a 1 star.