some time ago, someone asked the question: what is your favorite faerie tale. i’ve never had one until i saw disney’s version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. prior to that i liked all faerie tales in general. but there was something about BEAUTY AND THE BEAST that got me hooked.
the basics of the story is this: a spoiled brat of a prince is cursed to become a beast, a curse that can only be broken by true love’s kiss. true love, meaning the love has to come from both sides and it can’t be superficial love. and to add salt to the injury, there’s a time limit. the curse can only be broken until the last petal falls from a magical rose. after which, the curse will never be broken.
it’s a simple premise of love conquers all. but BEAUTY AND THE BEAST tops that with two protagonists that are completely, and believably, real. you have the beast, who must learn how to become a better person while looking like a beast; who must learn the lesson of seeing the beauty within. and then you have beauty, a girl who wants to believe in faerie-tale endings, but knows that for something to go your way, you have to work for it.
now set that premise in modern day new york and what you have is BEASTLY.
BEASTLY doesn’t stray far from the formula. but instead of following beauty’s journey, as other BEAUTY AND THE BEAST stories are wont to do, this one follows the beast’s progression. from being the cruel ‘prince’ to becoming cursed, from being a beast in action to becoming a changed man.
in alex flinn’s novel, we linger more on the relationship that grows between the beast and beauty, how they change from kidnapper-prisoner to becoming friends. and the development is solid enough that you can point out the part where you know they’ve fallen in love with each other.
and what’s especially good is how the beast accepts throughout that he is using beauty as a way to break the curse. that he wants her to end the curse. but the way he talks about her, the way he acts around her, slowly shows how her presence in his life has grown to something more than just a means to an end.
when the beast first accepts that he does love this beauty, it is not hard to swallow for the reader, even though we know that the only reason he’s gone and let beauty enter his life is so that he could have a chance to break his curse.
over all, BEASTLY is a great spin on the popular faerie tale. there are some additional twists to the story, which i won’t spoil, but for the most part you’ll recognize the plot points of the original tale. the only thing i didn’t so much like is the chat room transcripts of various faerie tale characters conversing with each other. or rather, i didn’t like how the writer tried to write it into the story, when it worked perfectly fine as just bookends, without it being ‘canon’.
[note: canon – the term used to refer to stories that happen within a story’s set universe. saying something is non-canon means that the story is not part of a story’s official continuity.]