Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Book Review: As Old as Time (Twisted Tales #3)

Release Date: September 6, 2016
Author: Liz Braswell
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 496 pages
Source: Library Book

What if Belle's mother cursed the Beast?

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father's reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle's mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast's enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.



Protagonists: Going into this book I only expected to follow Belle's POV, or maybe the Beast's as well, but what I wasn't prepared for was also following the point of view of two unexpected characters. In the first part of this book, to break up the novelization elements before the big shift in the narrative, we follow the life of a young Maurice as he moves to an enchanting kingdom and courts a powerful enchantress. For the most part, Belle and the Beast are the same characters that we see in the film, but after the great shift that this book their focus is a bit different than it is in the movie. Honestly, there isn't all that much character development for these two, at least nothing all that different from what we see in the movie, but there are moments where there's a bit of a shift in the development and while it's not anything too dramatic, it's nice to see a different shift in a character development, even if the results are the same. As for Maurice and the enchantress, Rosalind, their characterizations are really well done. Maurice is this kind man with so much unconditional love, that just wants to help anyone in need, and Rosalind is this powerful enchantress with very strong beliefs in what's right and wrong and when that's mixed with her hot temper, well you can see how she got around to cursing an eleven-year-old boy. All the characters we read from are really well characterized and it's easy to slip in and out of their heads.

Romance: There was far less romance in this story than I anticipated. If we're going to talk about Maurice and Rosalind, that romance went by pretty quickly, although it's meant to since there's a large gap to cover in just half of the first part. Even though that romance went by very quickly and pretty much hit all the major milestones of a YA romance in just one chapter, their chemistry is palpable and since they're not the main characters, it's excusable that their romance is sped up so much. As for Belle and the Beast, their romance is pretty subtle. I mean, the romance in the movie is pretty subtle too, although the ballroom scene is probably one of the most romantic scenes from any Disney movie and it's missing in this book. Honestly, though the romance is done well, I just wish that it would have been a bit more obvious and that it would have hit the protagonists earlier even if they didn't admit their feelings to each other until close to the end.

World Building: When this book was first announced I had mixed feelings, on the one hand, I had just finished Once Upon a Dream, which is by far the most bizarre and confusing of these titles so far, and I didn't know what to expect with this one, on the other hand, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale and Disney movie, so I was pretty excited. Luckily this story dials back a lot of the changes to the formula between A Whole New World and  Once Upon a Dream. The twist isn't exactly something that happens during the course of the story we all know, as it was with A Whole New World, instead the enchantress that we hear about at the beginning is given a much larger role and made Belle's mother. However, from Belle's point of view the story is the same until one moment when everything changes, and in a way, there is the shift in the narrative like there was in the first installment in this series. Most of the world building not already seen in the movie comes from Maurice and Rosalind's backstory. The world is opened up and we learn a lot more about the Beast's kingdom and what would compel an enchantress to test a prince. Overall, the added backstory, that eventually plays a major role in the present, adds a lot of great complexity to the story and makes for an interesting read.

Predictability: For the most part this story was pretty predictable, at least once the first part of the story was over. In fact, there was a very noticeable lull for me, and I think that has to do with the fact that most of the mystery that Belle and the Beast are trying to solve in the second part is explained or at the very least heavily implied by the back story chapters from the first part. There are a few surprises here and there and once the third part begins the tension starts to build back up again, but there were times when a twist would finally be implemented or revealed and I wouldn't have much of a reaction because it was either already confirmed by the backstory or heavily implied that it took me a while before I realized that I was even supposed to have a reaction.

Ending: Every time I go into one of these Twisted Tales, I always expect it to end the same way or similarly to the movie it's based off instead though the endings tend to be more complex and not end as perfectly tied up with all the heroes rewarded and the villains foiled. The final climax of this story sure was interesting and had one of the most interesting twists I believe I've ever seen. The actual ending of this story wasn't what I expected. Things in these Twisted Tales have real consequences and I love that the author doesn't pander to deliver a perfect happily ever after where everything is back to normal and all our heroes have an idealistic perfect ending. The funny thing is that I know this is a stand alone, and it definitely works as such, but there's a bit of a door left open at the end and I kind of wish there were more, but at the same time I can kind of draw my own conclusions on what happens.


Honestly, the first part of this story holds so much promise and sucks me right into the world and these characters, but the middle part has a bit of a lull, in fact, it took me a few days to get through it since I would take breaks and it would take me a while to get back to the story, but it does pick up again for the final part. The story itself is great, It's just that I wish the information was spread out a bit more and that we didn't already know most of the answers to the central mystery too early.


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