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Parents' Guide to


By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Beauty and the Beast retold in slow-paced but exotic tale.

Beast Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+
Most readers know how the story of Beauty and the Beast turns out (cursed prince must win the love of lady to become human again and succeeds), but how it all began is a completely different matter. Here, at last, the Beast's origins are revealed. Prince Orasmyn is a Persian prince with a fondness for reading and gardening--especially roses. But when he angers a vindictive fairy and is turned into a lion, she tells him that his only hope of breaking the curse is to win the unconditional love of a woman. The author's integration of Persian culture into this popular fairy tale works splendidly. Sadly, everything that occurs after Orasmyn's transformation is just not very interesting: he hunts for prey and he (tries to) hang out with other lions. At some point, he decides to go to--where else?--France to search for his one true love. His angst over Belle's acceptance quickly becomes annoying, and Belle, who appears a mere 60 pages before the story's end, doesn't get the time she deserves to develop into a well-rounded character. While the story does have its sweet moments, too few of them are with Belle. For a work of such amazing potential, finishing Beast proves to be a chore. Recommended for Ages 13-15.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (2 ):

For those with the patience to get through it, this is a beautifully told tale that brings new understanding to the original. Donna Jo Napoli, who has made something of a specialty of reinterpreting traditional fairy tales in the form of young-adult novels, here tackles a story that seems to fascinate YA authors: Beauty and the Beast. As Napoli explains in a note, her story is based on an 1811 poem by Charles Lamb, which specifies that the Beast was originally a Persian prince. This gives her the opportunity to weave satisfying doses of Persian culture and religious practices into the story, and to contrast them with the practices he finds in France.

The slow pace will not be to the taste of all teens, especially during the prince's wanderings in the first half of the novel. Once he is in France the pace quickens, but even with the inclusion of some bestial violence and sex, this is still more a thoughtful mood piece than an action-adventure, as befits the original story.

Book Details

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