This is a truly amazing book. While it’s an adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, it’s unlike any other adaptations of that story I’ve read. What really made me fall in love with the story is that it went beyond the idea that she just had to see beyond his beastliness to set things right, and it does so in an unexpected way. Add a few surprising turns and you have a tale that honors its source material while being an original in its own right.
The writing is very lush, making the world vivid and almost tactile, and the characters are complex. It takes a certain skill to write a book where the majority of the story only involves three characters and not have it feel like a large, empty house. Because the cast is small, there’s room to let the characters breathe and grow – and the relationship blossom – at a nicely measured pace.
This is the first book in a new fictional universe, which will feature additional retelling of fairy tale classics. Already, a novella – Gilded Ashes, a retake on Cinderella – has been published, and it shares many of the strengths that Cruel Beauty possesses, so the series shows some promise off being one to keep an eye on.