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A Fresh Retelling | Review of ‘Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge’


By Cynthia Ayala

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen
Candlewick Press
Image Credit: Goodreads

“They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.” —Goodreads

Published July 10, 2018, by Candlewick Press, Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen is a dark and mature retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Before beginning, let’s provide a trigger warning: there’s a rape scene early in the book. It is uncomfortable to read and highlights the viciousness that is the “prince.” It is not easy to get past this, but it does offer the story something tangible to attach his cruelty to. That being said, no, it is not going to be for everyone, especially not for rape survivors and not for young readers. It is a rough scene, no pun intended, and it is going to turn many people off.

That being that, it gives the story a little realism to attach to the prince, this cruelty that goes beyond just selfishness. Yes, the prince has always just cared about himself and has been cruel, but now there is something tangible to attach to the cruelty, and that will create emotion to the story. There are layers of emotion to the story as it twists the story, turning Lucie into the lamp, and watching the Beast develop. The character representation is fantastic, turning the tables on the beast. There is a sort of dissociative disorder going on here with two distinct personalities coming to life. Beast has no awareness of Jean-Loup, being the submissive personality, but as the story goes on and he becomes more aware of his ruthless personality. The dichotomy between the two characters is incredible and makes the novel stand apart from other retellings that are just about a guy learning to change his way. No here, it is about a good man overcoming the monster inside him. The story is about the Beast being the hero, the good guy, and not the Prince. He was always the mask, the monster, the real beast of the story. Moreover, that is what so compelling about the novel, to see this character develop and the story develops around him.

As far as stories go, it was interesting. It had a solid foundation and an exciting way to develop the protagonist while capturing the essence of the original beauty and the beast. So are so many elements that intermingle to tell this new version of the narrative, but there are also many shifts, Making Lucie the lamp was both intelligent and unique. It gives the story a new perspective to follow as it tells the story. The victim is the one who is telling the story, and that is what makes it interesting. Again, this is not going to be a story for everyone, but the empowerment that the victim gains, the power to recover and face the monster that hurt her, it is empowering to the reader. It shows character growth; it shows stability. Because of that, it is worth reading, to see how the story and the characters evolve. (★★★★☆ | B+)

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Product Details:

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

Page count: 352pp

Age Range: 16 & Over

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8880-6

Publisher: Candlewick Press

List Price:  $18.99

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Kindle Store $14.43

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