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, returns, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.
Stacey Jay has reimagined the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast with a dark new twist that will enchant modern audiences.
First Sentence: In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret.
I wasn’t planning to read Of Beast and Beauty at all. In fact, as soon as I saw it lurking around on goodreads, I jotted it down to my mental do-not-read list. I’ve been burned by Stacey Jay’s other books before, namely Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed. Both of those books had an awesome premise that looked like absolutely nothing could go wrong with it, but the way Stacey Jay executed the books just ruined the books for me. Of Beast and Beauty didn’t do anything for my eyes either. It wasn’t until I met up with Lili from Lili’s Reflections that she strongly urged me to give Of Beast and Beauty a try. In the end, I’m so glad she did; otherwise, I’ll be missing out on something very good.
Of Beast and Beauty and I started off on a rocky start, namely because of all the info-dump. Right from the very beginning, there were five pages of info-dump focused on the world-building – who the Smooth Skins were, why certain people were Monstrous and other people not, how the world came to be, etc. It was a lot of information to take in from five pages and I had to re-read each page for around three times until I finally got all the information Stacey Jay was dumping on us all at once. Things got a lot better on from there.
The girl was raised on the stories, and never questioned their truth, until the day her mother took her walking beyond the city walls. (3)
Every character in Of Beast and Beauty is memorable and is definitely not a one-dimensional character. (I feel like I have to mention this after reading Teardrop and its awful characters.) This includes the roses, who I feel is a unique character of its own. In fact, I wish that Of Beast and Beauty is also told from the roses’ point of view too, besides being told from Isra, Gem, and Bo’s point of view. The roses have that much depth to them.
I love how Isra and Gem’s relationship developed. It was perfect and rings true to the fairytale, except this time, there’s a little unique twist added: the beast is taken prisoner while the princess is his imprisoner. Just like Beauty and the Beast, Isra and Gem can’t be together: Isra is a princess, but what use is a princess without any power, a princess that is expected to die for her kingdom? Gem is an outcast of his tribe and is hated among the Smooth Skins. As Isra and Gem slowly got to know each other, I couldn’t help but swoon for their developing relationship and feel sorry for both of them, living in a world where they can’t be together.
“Maybe he only kisses queens who are about to die,” I say aloud, fighting the sudden urge to giggle. (121)
Of Beast and Beauty threw so many different plot twists at me that I wasn’t expecting. It got so intense that when one of the plot twists were revealed, I was fanning myself like crazy, trying to absorb it all in. I kind of predicted a certain plot twist, but it was done in such a way that I can’t really take full credit of predicting it, if that makes any sense at all. If you want to a book that’ll constantly shock you, Of Beast and Beauty is the one.
I’m sure many of you are wondering if Of Beast and Beauty did the original Beauty and the Beast fairytale any justice. My answer is yes. Of Beast and Beauty definitely rang true to the fairytale of Beauty and the Beast, but it also a few unique twists of its own. Like I’ve mentioned above, this time, it’s the princess who imprisons the beast and not the other way around. The rose, or roses in this case, still holds all the power and of course, there are still people trying to prevent the girl and the beast from getting together.
Tomorrow, I will serve and obey. I will be on my very best behavior. I will use only Yuan words and keep my claws sheathed. But tonight I will close my eyes and pretend I am not her prisoner. (57)
Overall, if you love Beauty and the Beast, you are guaranteed to enjoy reading this one. In fact, Of Beast and Beauty plagued my mind for days, it is that good. It’s sad that I didn’t really do the book any justice with my review though.