An Interesting Choice of Villainy | Review of ‘The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince’ (Villains #3)

By Cynthia Ayala

The Beast Within by Serena Valentino
Disney Press
Image Credit: Goodreads

“A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp–like a beast’s! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?” —Goodreads

Published July 22, 2014, by Disney Press, The Beast Within is the second novel in the Disney Villains series by Serena Valentino, exploring some of Disney’s famous villains and characters, with this one focusing on Beauty and Beast’s Beast himself.

The Beast Within is an excellent novel for any fan of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to read because it explores so much more of who the Beast was before the curse and who he became to try to break the curse. This novel is a journey, not just for Beast but also for the other characters in the novel. Most notably Gaston. Talk about a real shocker there. But all the best books have good shockers there.

The novel starts with Beast in his castle. He already has Belle, thinking that she may be the key to ending the curse that has befallen on his castle. By this time, however, he has already succumbed to his sorrow, as all fans would know. But there is also a side story going on surrounding those who cursed Beasts, the three sisters of the enchantress who cursed him who take absolute delight in his suffering. So there is another layer to the story, a layer that shows the reader just how the curse was working around the Beast, how it was evolving around him and his actions. Not only that, the reader got to see how the curse was manipulating Beast to keep him hopeless and this offers up so much to the story because the added layer really that while the Beast may have been quite a Beast, not everything cast upon him was deserving.

That said, the story goes back to the beginning, it shows the reader who the Beast was and in a way, it also reveals that with The Prince in Gaston’s life, there was a balance, they balanced each other out, even while being shallow, Gaston wasn’t that bad. He was a man who looked out for his friend while also caring for those around him. This aspect—this softness—is just so uncharacteristic of what readers already know of him, but it’s also not unbelievable. His relationship with The Prince made him a somewhat better person. He was always shallow, but there was humility to him. He was friends with the Prince, a man who cared about him deeply, that humbled his character. At the same time, this also showed a harsher side of who the Beast was and how horrible he became in his desperation to avoid the curse taking hold.

That is also the story strongest aspect. The curse didn’t just happen in an instant, it happened over weeks, taking hold very slowly, lurking around the corners of the castle before pouncing. That was an amazing direction for Valentino to take in telling the story because it shows Beast’s desperation, it showed the reader who he was, how cruel he could be, how vain and selfish he was. There is an added character who becomes his punching bag, a girl who loves it, and it shows a harsh light on The Prince, but also reflects on who he was.

What’s interesting is the fact that Valentino chose to set the focus of the novel on Beast rather than Gaston yet approached the novel by presenting both of them in the novel. When one thinks about who the villain is in Beauty and the Beast the idea is never that it’s Beast, but rather Gaston. She presented another view to the story and showed the reader and fans a darker side of the Beast and why he was cursed, that it went beyond his vanity and hit him at the core. (★★★☆☆ | B+)

Product Details:

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

Page count: 215pp

Age Range: 10 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5912-4

Publisher: Disney Press

List Price:  $16.99

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