Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly @JenWritesBooks @Scholastic @SnyderBridge4

Posted April 29, 2024 by Robin in Book Review / 4 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly @JenWritesBooks @Scholastic @SnyderBridge4Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly
on May 7, 2024
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy Romance
Pages: 392
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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What makes a girl "beastly?" Is it having too much ambition? Being too proud? Taking up too much space? Or is it just wanting something, anything, too badly?

That's the problem Arabella faces when she makes her debut in society. Her parents want her to be sweet and compliant so she can marry well, but try as she might, Arabella can't extinguish the fire burning inside her -- the source of her deepest wishes, her wildest dreams.

When an attempt to suppress her emotions tragically backfires, a mysterious figure punishes Arabella with a curse, dooming her and everyone she cares about, trapping them in the castle. As the years pass, Arabella abandons hope. The curse is her fault -- after all, there's nothing more "beastly" than a girl who expresses her anger -- and the only way to break it is to find a boy who loves her for her true a cruel task for a girl who's been told she's impossible to love.

When a handsome thief named Beau makes his way into the castle, the captive servants are thrilled, convinced he is the one to break the curse. But Beau -- spooked by the castle's strange and forbidding ladies-in-waiting, and by the malevolent presence that stalks its corridors at night -- only wants to escape. He learned long ago that love is only an illusion. If Beau and Arabella have any hope of breaking the curse, they must learn to trust their wounded hearts, and realize that the cruelest prisons of all are the ones we build for ourselves.

Beastly Beauty is the first book I’ve read by Jennifer Donnelly.  She did a very interesting reimagining of  Beauty and the Beast that is also a gender swap.  The beauty is a young man trying to get back to his sickly brother who happens to end up in an enchanted castle.  The Beast, a woman stuck in time with a deadline to find love or sentence all in her castle to death.

My story isn’t for the heroes out there, for the shining knights and perfect princesses. My story is for the screwups. For those of us who never seem to get it right. The ones who say too much, or not enough.

Arabella is stuck and has lost almost all hope.  She tried over the years to find love and failed each time.  She was resigned to her fate, that is until Beau showed up and with him the glimmer of hope that perhaps, just perhaps this thief might be able to steal her heart and break the curse that is just days from killing everyone in the castle.  As the story unfolds the reader gets to see not only through Arabella’s but also through Beau’s eyes the story of the past and an inkling of how Beau might be able to save the future.

I really enjoyed this re-imagining of one of my favorite fairytales.  It was interesting how Arabella was the Beast and who all of her ladies in waiting were.  Beau is just as broken in so many ways.  He has traded on his looks to survive and while he hates the life he is in an wants an escape he is stuck with some feelings of worthlessness that are hard to overcome.  Arabella and Beau understand each other in their feelings of inadequacy, how they have let down the people they love and how they aren’t sure how to break the chains that bind them.

“Do not speak for love, Lady Espidra,” she said, her eyes blazing. “Do not hold that word in your mouth when you do not hold it in your heart.” She swept her finger in front of her, pointing at all the ladies in turn. “Not one of you knows anything of love. Love does not run. It does not turn tail. Love never, ever gives up.”  

This is a story of redemption and breaking all of the odds against you.  It had enough going on that I was always engaged and really loved the idea of the magic of the curse that was on the castle and how Arabella was supposed to break it.  There is some great imagery and tender moments to awe over without going too overboard.  Really a great read for those who enjoy Beauty and the Beast retellings.

“You must do one thing and one thing only— become the person you were meant to be. No matter how daunting that task may be. Otherwise, your life is not a life; it is merely a long, protracted death.”

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Posted April 29, 2024 by Robin in Book Review / 4 Comments

4 responses to “Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly