Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

From Goodreads: 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, returns, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

My Rating: 4.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I adore fairy tale retellings so when I heard that Stacey Jay’s Of Beast and Beauty was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I knew I had to read it. After reading Of Beast and Beauty though, I’d have to say that it’s a very loose retelling. It reminds me of Everneath in the sense that it uses ideas from a few stories to deliver an entirely new creation. In the case of Of Beast and Beauty, there are elements from Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.

For me, the best aspect about Of Beast and Beauty was the writing. It was just so poetic and enchanting! I loved that a lot of the imagery relied on the sense of smell and touch – due to Isra’s blindness – because it really made the city of Yuan and the surrounding desert come alive in my mind.

The characters were great as well. I found both Isra and Gem to be equally complex. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Bo wasn’t as bad as I suspected. Silly me for judging a character in a book about appearances!

Although I thought that Gem’s and Isra’s realizations that they loved each other was a bit sudden, I did like the romance. Gem and Isra had chemistry, and there was a believable transition from the two being enemies to learning that they had things in common.

Another thing I enjoyed about Of Beast and Beauty was the way it conveys its message. Not only does the book teach the reader to look past appearances and to consider the idea of beauty not being the same for each person, but it also distorts their perception of who is Beauty and who is Beast over the course of the story.

A spellbinding novel, Of Beast and Beauty was released in July 2013 by Delacorte Press. 

Comments About the Cover: I like that the cover hints at all the fairy tales that Of Beast and Beauty appears to be inspired by. You can clearly see the tower (Rapunzel) and the rose (Sleeping Beauty), and obviously, the title (Beauty and the Beast).


  1. I have heard some pretty great things about this book. I really should get to it. I liked the concept of using a couple different stories to tell one. Beauty and the Beast stories are also kind of fun. I am glad you enjoyed this one.

    ~Sara @ Just Another Story

  2. Ooh, I've heard great things about the writing in this one. And like you I love re-tellings so I'm exciting to pick it up.

    Great review! :)

  3. I was pretty meh about this book when I first heard it but your awesome review makes me rethink about my choice of passing this one by. I'm really interested to see how the author makes the fairy tale-like story her own and the changing identity of Beauty and Beast sounds well done.

  4. The characters and the writing in this one sounds awesome, it really makes me want to pick this one up. Even though I love love love retellings I never gave much thought to this one but you may have just convinced me :)

  5. I tried reading this but I kept falling asleep! I thought it just wasn't for me, but maybe I just dropped this way too early (that part when Gem got caught in Isra's garden). So glad to know you liked this, Z! I'll give this another shot!

  6. I have this one on my TBR, so I'm glad you loved it! I'm a fairy tale retelling fan too.

  7. ohhh, 4.5 stars! I'm always drawn to retellings because I love fairy tales so much, but I usually end up disappointed. It's SO good to hear that you loved this, though, and that the writing was strong in particular. Thanks for the review!

    Fraaaaak. And now I see your 5 star rating, too. JOY, I DON'T HAVE TIME TO DEVIATE FROM THE PLAN.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  8. I love fairy tale retellings, too. I'm not reading as much as I'd like to but that's because I read a one about Sleeping Beauty that absolutely disappointed me. Everneath was a favourite of mine and I always need the writing to be strong so the story has a chance to grip me. Will definitely have to pick up a copy of OF BEAST AND BEAUTY now. Thanks for your review!

  9. Huh, I didn't know this one drew from more than just Beauty and the Beast. Actually, I like that a lot! An interesting combination. This one sort of slipped under my radar and now I'm wondering why - because it sounds fantastic! I know a lot of people rave about Stacey Jay's other books, in particular her writing, so it's good to hear you felt the same way about this one. Ohhh, MUST read this now!! Thanks, Zahida!

  10. This was my first book by this author and I was definitely impressed! I loved the writing too, Z. It was also probably my favourite part. The prologue and epilogue made me wish that I could write with such skill! I'm so glad you enjoyed this overall. Great review! :)


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