Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince

Release Date: July 22, 2014
Author: Serena Valentino
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 215 pages
Source: Library Book

The tale is as old as time: a cruel prince is transformed into a beast. A lovely maiden comes into this monster's life. He is transformed by her compassion, and the love he feels for her in return. The two live happily ever after.

But any tale, especially one as storied as Beauty and the Beast's, has been told many different times, and in many different ways. No matter which version one hears, the nagging question remains: what was it that transformed the prince into the beast we are introduced to?

This is one version, pulled from the many passed down through the ages. It's a story of vanity and arrogance, of love and hatred, of beastliness, and of course, of beauty.



Protagonist: In this book we get a good hard look at the background for one of the titular characters of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the Beast himself. The character of the Beast or, as he's referred to in the extended flashback that takes up most of this book, the Prince, is a very complex one. I mean don't get me wrong he's kind of a shallow womanizing jerk, but the punishment he gets for that might be just a bit harsh, plus his good friend Gaston is no help, but over the course of the book he changes, both physically and emotionally, getting worse before he can get better.

Romance: So there's a bit of a surprise when it comes to the romance in this book. While there is a bit of romance between Belle and the Beast that doesn't come until the final few chapters of this book and is really more of a quick summary of what you see in the movie instead of a play by play. Instead this book mainly tells the tale of the Prince trying to break the curse before it gets worse with another girl, Tulip. Even though it's obvious that this romance will end badly I actually really enjoyed reading it, excluding the parts where the Prince is a cruel jerk.

World-Building: The world-building is what really makes this book as fantastic as it is. The author has used her creative license to add so many much more depth to this world. It becomes about more than just your typical Beauty and the Beast tale. First off there's the fact that most if not all the Disney fairy tale worlds are interconnected with references to both Cinderella and The Little Mermaid in this book, but secondly the author adds new characters and even some new "behind the scenes" villains to spice up this tale. I have a feeling that if this author is to continue these fun little retellings, which I surely hope that she does, I know which tale she'll conquer next.

Predictability: So since this is a retelling and for the most part a very faithful one at that, it wasn't hard to predict how things were going to go down and just what would become of these character. That isn't to say that there weren't surprises from time to time, sometimes giving new meaning to "the devil's in the details," but for the most part it was very easy to predict the flow of the story and where things would end up. That being said it never for a second diminished my enjoyment of this book.

Ending: I honestly don't know what to say here. This book ends much the way you would expect it to, the author doesn't do all that much to change the story, but more adds depth to it and details that make you look at the story another way. There's isn't exactly a final climax, but this book didn't really need one, and by the end I didn't feel disappointed, the only thing I felt was that I wanted more from this world, but the story itself was complete.


With this being based around not only my favorite fairy tales, but my favorite Disney movie I don't know why I didn't read it earlier and I'm all the more pumped to read the other book in this companion series Fairest of All.


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