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.
At the time of writing this review Goodreads have rated this as 3.58 out of 5
12th February 2019 by Berkley
Enchantments and dreams: I suspect they are made of the same stuff. They each beguile the mind and confuse the senses with wonder and strangeness so all that was familiar becomes freakish, and the most bizarre of things intimate and natural. For the longest time after the curse fell, I did not know if I was a beast who dreamed of being a man, or a man who dreamed he was a beast.
I received a copy of this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
If you don’t like reviews that are considered negative then please avert your eyes now.
I’ll give you this sentence to make the decision as to whether you want to read on. Ready?
I started this book on the 30th January and twelve days later (today on the 10th February) when I looked to see how far through the book I had gotten I almost sobbed to see I was only 45% of the way through.
How had it taken me twelve days to not even reach half way through??
Simply put, the reason is this: The Beast’s Heart was one of the most boring books that I’ve read.
There were multitudes of things that I ended up doing instead of returning to read this book. I grouted the bathroom. Guys listen…. I grouted my bathroom. That should have been the screaming red signal I needed to just put this one gracefully aside.
But as I didn’t want to mark this as a DNF I finished the rest of it today. I say ‘read’ but I skimmed over a lot. Still, I managed to follow the story as what was skimmed over was a whole lot of descriptions of nothing.
I’m afraid I’m going to be blunt.
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and what appealed to me about it was that it was telling the original story through the eyes of the beast.
What I wanted was a tense portrayal of someone trapped inside a twisted version of his body and existing in a life filled with such crippling loneliness and longing that it drives him to behave in desperate ways.
What I got was an emo version of the beast who just moped, whinged and moped some more. First he moped over his loneliness and then over a woman who wouldn’t love him romantically.
Even when this version of beauty (Isabeau) told him she loved him as a friend he would sulk in his room that he didn’t want to be her ‘friend’ because ‘friends’ didn’t spend that much time together talking and bonding.
Nice Guy tendencies do not a personality make.
That’s ok because at least Isabeau had a shining, spirited personality, right? WRONG.
If the beast had no personality than I’m at a loss to describe Isabeau. Her time was spend gasping, going for walks, playing the virginal, gasping, drifting around aimlessly, gasping, sulking and gasping.
To say I didn’t care for either of the main characters is an understatement and that’s a huge problem for a book like this because the success of the story hinges on the fact that we are invested in them and their budding romantic relationship.
At least there was a riveting, terse plot though, right? WRONG.
The story is set within the beasts castle which is gorgeously described (oh don’t worry, I’m coming to that in a second). The main characters go on a lot of walks and eat a lot of dinners together (except when Isabeau is sulking), read and play music.
That’s it. The only saving grace to the story is when the beast spies on Isabeau’s fam with a magic mirror and watches as her significantly more interesting sisters begin their own romantic stories. But even then there was three pages dedicated to a suitor providing a sister with oranges in exchange for her washing his handkerchief.
I don’t know.
I mean I do know. The writer tried to adapt the original fairy tale in full faithfulness but what works for a fairy tale doesn’t work for 400+ pages of novel. There needs to be something more.
Sadly, the writing style also put me off. Because the writer was trying to be faithful to the original it meant that the prose was written to be very 1700’s esque (this is not an easy or flowing style).
Also, because of this faithfulness the writer then had to stretch out a short fairy tale into 400+ pages and so this meant everything had to be described in grandiose ways. Even the most straightforward act i.e. walking from one room to the next, had to be protracted. I don’t need three paragraphs of someone walking down a staircase (no matter how grand the wrought iron banisters are) – I just don’t.
The repetition of sentences also occurred, not just in theme, but using the exact language. If I was told the beast ‘eschewed the company and advances of women’ once I was told a million times.
It’s strange that this is pitched as YA because I don’t see it. If this was pitched as a literaryesque version of Beauty and the Beast I could have squinted and seen it.
I’m sure the author is lovely and this review doesn’t reflect on her as a person. Her bio says she won the 2016 Aurealis Award for Best YA Short Story and as The Beasts Heart is her debut novel I wonder if its a case of just ensuring that there is enough original material at an appropriate length.
I wish her well with her next book.