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BOOK REVIEW: Beast – A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

| 10 October 2018 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Beast – A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

Candlewick Press
September 2018
Hardcover, $22.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Retelling / Fantasy / Young Adult

2/10

Filled with magic and fierce emotion, Lisa Jensen’s multilayered novel will make you question all you think you know about beauty, beastliness, and happily ever after.

They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.

 

Trigger Warning: Rape

 

Beast – A Tale of Love and Revenge begins before the Beauty and the Beast story readers and movie-goers will be familiar with, is told from the point of view of a servant girl, new to the manor, and the chevalier rapes her early on. His transformation into a beast is as a result of his mistreatment of her and many others. So far so good, in terms of delivering a character who really deserves to be transformed and shunned by the world… but how are we meant to come to believe this horror of a person has redeemed himself, really?

And the curse itself is riddled with issues.

Jean-Loup, the guy who is cursed and turned into a beast, needs to find a virtuous woman who will agree to marry him in that beastly state in order to break the curse and turn him human again. But Beast doesn’t remember being Jean-Loup, and is a different person… so how is he learning anything from the change? What’s more, when he is returned to human form (because of course he is) the human personality comes back. How is this a tale of redemption in any sense of the word?

There is an explanation, but it stinks of handwavium and in general doesn’t make sense.

It’s also rather difficult to be completely pulled in by a story whose main character becomes an inanimate candlestick and cannot really do or say anything for large chunks of the story… besides observe the Beast.

I do have to agree with the author’s afterword about how she always preferred the beast to the prince. I always thought the prince was ugly in the Disney movie, and wanted the Beast back… so on that level I can understand what the author was going for. Unfortunately it lacked something in the telling.

 

 

Stephanie O’Connell

Category: Book Reviews

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