Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Beast's Heart

The Beast's Heart-Leife Shallcross
Release Date: February 12, 2019


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

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined chΓ’teau with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the chΓ’teau. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . .

Beauty and the Beast is one of my all time favorite fairy tales.  I love reading new variations on the tale as old as time- whether it is in 14th century France, Regency England, or a science fiction adventure far in the future- and watching the heart of the story remain.  Because the heart of the story is one we seem to need to be constantly reminded of: no matter what you look like on the outside, no matter the cold or selfish person you once were, it is always possible to discover the good person inside yourself and change.  It is always possible that someone can see who you are and love you for it, no matter what.

The Beast's Heart, the first published novel by Leife Shallcross, returns to the original fairy tale and gives us the Beast's version of it.  He wanders the forests for over a century as more animal than man before being drawn back to his (once grand) chateau.  As he begins to try and become a man again, magic returns the chateau to its former spender and invisible servants assist the Beast.  But he is lonely and when a lost traveler stumbles onto the chateau, the Beast sees an opportunity.  We all know (or do we?) what happens next: the man's youngest daughter trades a year of her life for her father's freedom, the Beast falls in love with her, and if Isabeau will fall in love and agree to marry him the curse will be broken.  

I enjoyed seeing through the eyes of the Beast and watching him come to understand not only why he was cursed in the first place, but what true love is.  Weaving in the stories of Isabeau's two sisters as they find their places in small village life and discover love of their own kept the pace strong and was an excellent way to bring in new characters, conflicts, and plot twists. 

 But one of the things that I loved the most, and stood out so strongly to me, was the writing.  The writing and language in The Beast's Heart was wonderfully well done and made me feel like I was entering a truly magical fairy tale each time I picked the book up. Shades of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters mix with original, classic fairy tales to create something both highly original and completely classic at the same time.

This is a must-read for fairy tale lovers, those who love new versions of fairy tales, romance readers, and will become a classic go-to read for adults and children alike.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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