Sunday, October 13, 2013

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...  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, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.  - Goodreads.com

I've read a lot of recreations of fairy tales, but this one was definitely unique to others like it.  First of all, this Beauty and the Beast tale takes place in a dystopian-type world, but I'm not sure it's actually Earth.  It's almost like a complete fantasy all the way around.  And rather than the heroine being the captive of the beast, it's the other way around there too.  Although, they're both prisoners of a sort, as the heroine is locked away in a tower away from people, told that it's for her own good because she's ugly, and is treated like a prisoner.  Even after she becomes queen, they still want to keep her under lock and key and treat her like she's mad.

I'm not usually a fan of high fantasy type stories, but this one was very interesting and intriguing, and I loved the romance involved so much that it really did suck me in.  A very interesting concept. 

The romance was one of the most fulfilling pieces of this story.  These are two people who are not only different, but sort of a different species due to an ancient curse that turns one set of their people into beasts.  Her growing love for him, however, was so believable.  They become friends first, and then the feelings begin to develop.  The slow progression of the romance made it more realistic, and much more rewarding to read.  They learn to love each other despite generations of prejudice and hatred.

The story itself was unique and mysterious.  The revelation of what's truly occurring was surprising, but very smart.  But one of the best things about the story was the writing itself.

This story was beautiful written.  The settings and world building were rich in detail, without bogging the reader down with useless description.  It was poetic and lyrical, and there were times that I was like "wow" about the way things were worded or described.  Beautiful writing.


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