Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (Favorites Extravaganza: Day 2)

2015 Favorites Extravaganza: Day #2

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
First Published: 2013
Young Adult, Retelling
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...
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, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.
Oh my, Oh my. I never expected this book to be... well, this book. That's not to say that I didn't go into it with high exceptions, because I did. I couldn't not to when it had such a gorgeous cover and was marketed as a retelling of one of my favorite fairy-tales (and favorite Disney movie *wink*).

But I never could've expected this enchanting world, a strange mixture of a bit of sci-fi and a lot of magic, or the beautiful writing, or the captivating characters.

It's almost a shame to call it a "retelling", because it's far more than that. It's its own story, capable of standing tall on its own two feet without the fairy-tale attached to it, and one does not necessarily need to love B&B in order to love it.

Because in Of Beast and Beauty  there is no clear "beast" and no clear "beauty". 

Isra Beast?? is a blind princess doomed to a horrible fate. She is strong, opinionated, kind, but also very much a prisoner in her own city. Her own castle. She's grown to thinks of herself as "tainted" by the mutation her people fear so much, and instead of being Belle enslaved by the beast, she is the one who does the enslaving when she catches Gem, a Monstrous, as he is infiltrating her city.
Gem Belle? may be a beast in his appearance, but he is such a good person. He only thinks of the best for his people, but still he can't kill even when his duty tells him he must. He tries to hate and yet finds himself unable. And no matter his motivations, he treats Isra with kindness and attention. The (almost) only person in her life who does.

These two are just... in one word? sigh. I mean, seriously, the shipping is crazy. They bring the best in each other, they encourage each other to be better, they open each other's eyes. They're also HAWT like lava and so very delicious. And the best part? It takes time for their relationship to grow. They start as semi enemies, then reluctant partners, then friends, then... more. It's beautiful!
Then there's Gaston Bo. Occasionally, we get a glimpse into his pov. That was smart, because Jay lets us see Gaston Bo is not a bad person. He is a product of years of prejudice and false information. He truly believes what he's doing is right, and he does have a heart and a sense of right and wrong. He just can't look past all he's been told to see the truth.
okay, Gaston Bo is no monster, but how was I supposed to resist? 
Another character worth mentioning is Needle, Isra's maid. I love this girl, and I kind of really really wanted to see her happy with someone. I'm all for Jay writing a sequel for Needle, maybe with Gem's brother? I feel like she could really teach him compassion and love...

The ending of this book was so amazing! And quite different than the Disney ending. Just like, a lot of asdfghjkl really.

Honestly, I don't have enough words to recommend this book with. Just read it, please. It deserves more love!


  1. This is one of the (many) books I wanted so badly and planned to buy as soon as it would come out, but then I never did buy it. Sounds like I need to get my hands on it at some point, though!

    1. Yes, you need to get on it girl! This book was awesomesauce and it's SO PRETTY too!