The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

Beast1After a rather crazy month of May I’m pretty much dedicating the month of June to catching up with all my errant reviews.

The Beast’s Heart is a retelling of my favourite fairytale – Beauty and the Beast.  It’s a rather beautifully written love story told from the perspective of the Beast.

I can say immediately that I enjoyed this book very much.  The style of writing is a perfect mix of beautiful description and bewitching storytelling and it’s a tale that I already know and love.  I have a couple of little issues that kept this from going from a good read to a great one but overall this was a lovely story that I devoured in a couple of sittings.

I won’t go into the plot too much.  I’m fairly sure that most people know the storyline for Beauty and the Beast and for the most part The Beast’s Heart is a faithful rendition that takes the opportunity to give us the Beast’s perspective.

We start off with the Beast living wild in the forest, terrorising the other animals until he remembers his humanity and the curse that brought him so low.  After he recalls his past he returns to his home, a fantastic and crumbling chateau that is also cursed. The whole place is bewitched, it has it’s own seasons, the gardens can change at will and the house has it’s own personality being able to change from a place of warmth and comfort to one that is hostile and unwelcoming depending on it’s own feelings as events unfold.  Eventually, following the natural course of the fairytale Isabeau comes to stay with the Beast after an agreement is reached that she will stay for the duration of one year.

Gradually the two form a sort of friendship and fall into a daily pattern however their friendship is hampered by the secrets that they both withhold from each other and a general lack of openness.

What I particularly liked about this was the style of writing.  This story lends itself so well to the gothic and the author has a lovely way with words that evokes the classics.  The descriptions and attention to detail are really well executed and I also particularly enjoyed the way the story splits between the time spent at the Chateau and the glimpses of Isabeau’s family and the lives they are now living, which we are able to witness alongside the Beast using his magical mirror. Isabeau’s sister’s both have their own storylines going on that help to break things up nicely whilst at the same time increasing the tension. I particularly liked that the nature of the two sisters was slightly different here.  Yes, they relied heavily on Isabeau but to an extent the fact that she looked after them so thoroughly left them without the will to try things for themselves.  When Isabeau left they had to cope and in doing so their characters flourished.  Much as Isabeau needed more from her life so did the two sisters need more from theirs.

This is undoubtedly a love story, which I was expecting going in to the read. It focuses strongly on emotions with the Beast’s loneliness and desperation seeping onto every page.  He despairs of his current form, he can’t imagine how Isabeau can ever love him and yet every day he persists in asking her to marry him – even though he can see how unhappy it makes her.

The issues I had with this book related to two different things.  Firstly, the nature of the Beast’s curse – which was changed slightly but I’m not quite sure why – and in fact it made the whole cursing seem a little unfair to me.  The other thing I felt was a lack of ‘beastliness’ from the Beast.  To be honest, he was just too damned nice, always charming.  Always trying too hard.  I realise that he doesn’t want to scare Isabeau away but I almost felt like shaking him at one point.  There was one part of the book where the altercations between the two became a bit tedious because of the lack of somebody having a bit more bite or backbone about them.  Of course, don’t get me wrong,  I can see the motivations for the Beast’s good behaviour but I think I expected every now and again for his animal nature to get the better of him and perhaps we’d witness a teeny outburst.

Fortunately there was nothing that really spoiled the read for me, just a short spell that could have become a little stilted but for the alternate chapters spent with Isabeau’s family.

On the whole I enjoyed reading from the Beast’s pov.  The writing was quite captivating and rich with a delicious gothic vibe and I would certainly read more from this author.  But – if love stories aren’t your thing – be aware that that is the major gist of the story here.

I received a copy from the publisher courtesy of Netgalley.  My thanks for the copy and apologies for the tardiness of this review.  The above is my own opinion.

 

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Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross.  Oh my giddy aunt.  I’m an absolute sucker for any retellings of Beauty and the Beast but I think this is the first time I’ve seen a book from the Beast’s point of view.  Get in my life this minute.  *drools unbecomingly*.

thebeastsA sumptuously magical, brand new take on a tale as old as time—read the Beast’s side of the story at long last.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

The day I was cursed to this wretched existence was the day I was saved—although it did not feel so at the time.

My redemption sprung from contemptible roots; I am not proud of what I did the day her father happened upon my crumbling, isolated chateau. But if loneliness breeds desperation then I was desperate indeed, and I did what I felt I must. My shameful behaviour was unjustly rewarded.

My Isabeau. She opened my eyes, my mind and my heart; she taught me how to be human again.

And now I might lose her forever.

Lose yourself in this gorgeously rich and magical retelling of The Beauty and the Beast that finally lays bare the beast’s heart.

Publication date: May 3rd 2018