I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by HarperTeen on March 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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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?
Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies and I am super pumped for the live-action movie! What better time to amp that up than a novel retelling, releasing jut in time for those looking forward to the movie this month.
In this version of Beauty and the Beast, we have Yeva, nicknamed Beauty by her father, who lives with him as well as her two sisters. Yeva feels somewhat lost in her life, longing for the woods and her childhood memories of hunting alongside her father, unlike what is expected from a girl of her means. But when her family hits some hard times they are forced back to their old life in a cottage in the woods. Yeva is once again drawn to the hunt when her father goes missing and she is determined to find him and the beast he claimed was stalking him. Much like Belle from the Disney version of this tale, Yeva is incredibly brave and loyal to her father, willing to risk everything to save him. When she falls for the Beast’s trap and becomes his prisoner, this Beauty started to develop a personality all her own and I loved it. She was quite fierce and often running on her thirst for revenge more than anything. She was a quick thinker, always looking for a way out of her circumstances. And even when the relationship between her and the Beast started to somewhat shift, she kept that drive to get what she wanted, even when she was sometimes conflicted when the Beast showed a more human side. She was a true warrior with a fierce determination, independence, and drive who managed to surprise me time and time again.
What I absolutely loved was the progression of the relationship between the two. It was a slow path for the two to become more than just capturer and prisoner. The Beast liked to listen to Yeva tell stories and she learned how to become a better hunter and about the magic of the woods. So much of who and what the Beast was remained a mystery for much of the novel, keeping me guessing and wanting to know more. We get to see little glimpses of who he was and what he wanted at the beginning of each chapter that only added more intrigue.
Obviously Beauty and the Beast were the stars of this novel but the author made sure any side characters had a great presence when they graced the pages as well. Both of Yeva’s sisters were wonderful and the three of them had an amazing relationship with each other. The addition of a man vying for Yeva’s affections, Solmir, ended up being the exact opposite of what I expected of him, in a good way! Of course I cannot fail to mention Yeva’s dog, Doe-Eyes! She had my heart.
And though I found myself enjoying this retelling immensely, I can’t deny part of me felt slightly underwhelmed once the mysteries were explained. It was a huge build up for me, not wanting to put it down for a second, so I was expected this great explanation and climax and it just didn’t hit that for me as much as I hoped. I think it was a classic case of expecting too much for a story I already hold so dear. Nevertheless, on a whole I really enjoyed this retelling and I think others will too! The characters were incredibly well done with inspiration pulled from the original story blended so well with personality traits that made them all their own.
“You may have me captive,” Yeva said. “You may control when I can leave and what I eat and how long I’m allowed to live. But you don’t own me.” She paused, then added with irritation, “And don’t call me girl, like I have no name.”
The Beast’s tail flicked aside, twitching with anger. “You call me Beast.”
“That is what you are. Have you give me reason to call you anything else?”
The Beast hesitated, scowling across the blood-soaked snow at her. “I will call you Beauty then,” he said. “For that is what you are.”