Saturday, 18 February 2012

Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse

I received this book courtesy of the publishers from NetGalley.

Considering my obsession with Beauty and the Beast, the title of this novella was always going to call to me until I gave in and read it. It didn’t take very much for me to give in to the urge to read it (read: it didn’t take anything at all). After I spent Valentine’s Day with something bordering on a horror story, I really fancied a bit of light romance next. And what better than Beauty and the Beast?

Title: Beauty in the Beast
Author: Christine Danse
Publisher: Carina Press
Target Audience: Adult
Pages: ebook – approx. 29k words
PoV: 1st person
Tense: Past tense

Story: Journeying by steam-powered sled to London's Frost Fair to perform, Tara and three friends are trapped in a blizzard in the woods. A gruff, handsome stranger offers them shelter-and wants one thing in return. Stories. 

The travellers are glad to oblige. Their host, Rolph, is especially captivated by Tara's story of an orphaned girl raised by the Fae in the world of the spirits. Equally intrigued by Rolph, and aware of an electric pull between them, Tara encourages him to share a story of his own. When Rolph weaves a tale of a man who is doomed by his own folly to turn into a wolf at the full moon, Tara suspects there is more than a grain of truth in his words. 

When the veil between the mortal and spiritual worlds is parted, and danger threatens, will Tara make the ultimate sacrifice to save Rolph?

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts and impressions: For a short story, Beauty in the Beast dabbles in a bit of everything! It’s historical, it’s romance, it’s paranormal, it’s steampunk. I really liked the opening where a company of four storytellers are battling their way through a snowstorm. The descriptions are poignant, all the more so because of the recent freezing weather and snow falls that we’ve had here. I could feel the cold seeping into my bones as much as it was into the characters’ bones!

There are essentially two halves to the story: in the first, the troop arrive at the cabin, beg for shelter and then take turns to each tell a story. The stories they tell are short but fun. I especially liked the story of the old man who replaced all his servants with automatons only to discover to his horror that these machines are far from the perfect servants that he had envisioned. A good moral for us all to keep in mind in this day and age!

The second half focuses on building the actual story between this particular Beauty (Tara) and the Beast (Rolph). There’s evident mutual attraction between the two of them but Rolph seems unwilling to act upon it for mysterious reasons. Tara, of course, won’t back down that easily. She knows what she wants and she’s willing to push to get it. There are some very sweet scenes when both of them are still finding their footing around the other as well as one particularly intense scene that I was rather hoping would lead to something more! It didn’t, but in this case I found that I wasn’t too disappointed because events didn’t give me time to be disappointed.

I’m a bit torn about the ending. On the one hand, I would have liked to have seen more – to get to know the characters and maybe get a glimpse into what was to come: would Tara leave the group or Rolph join in? How would they deal with Rolph’s particular “problem”? On the other hand, I recognise that it was probably the best place for the author to leave off as another ending point probably wouldn’t have been as powerful.

As for the paranormal side of things, well, the author asks the reader to take a lot on faith. She doesn’t really spend time worrying about how these things work or why they’re there. They just do and are. This worked for me but I’d understand if it didn’t work for everyone.

For a short story, the characters are very well developed, the story really caught my interest and I found it was all over far too soon. The mark of a good book is when you reach the end and wish there were still more pages to turn. I had that here.

Style: The story is set in Britain but written in American English. Usually I can ignore this fairly easily unless the author uses words that are not part of our British vocabulary. This story has a few offenders (the biggest being ‘stoop’ – the only reason I know this word is because it’s from a Dutch word) but this is a personal pet peeve. Everything flows well and I found it easy to immerse myself in the story.

Final verdict: A short but sweet retelling of my favourite fairy tale. I really liked Tara and Rolph – I just wish I’d been able to spend more time with them! 4 stars

Extra notes: No bad language. No sex.

1 comment:

  1. I like the story of Beauty and the Beast. I feel like if I read this story, I would like it, but it's a novella! Shorter books make me sad, because I always feel like I want more from the story. Like you said you'd rather have read more about Tara and Rolph. I hate that feeling. But if the novella is a good read, then it's a good read. This sounds like a short and sweet story that leaves a reader wanting for more. Thanks for the review!!!

    Alyssa Susanna


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