Book Review

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

The Beast’s Heart by Leife ShallcrossThe Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross

Genre: Fairy Tales, Historical Fantasy, Romance

Published on February 12, 2019
Published by Ace, Penguin Random House
Format: eBook, 414 pages
Source: Purchased

My rating:

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First sentence: Enchantments and dreams: I suspect they are made of the same stuff.

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, so I have a weak spot for its retellings. When I saw that The Beast’s Heart was from Beast’s point of view, it was a must-read for me.

What Did I Like?

  • French names and setting, as a nod to the place of an origin of this fairy tale. It’s obvious that Leife Shallcross did not just google and randomly choose a bunch of names that sounded French. The Beast’s Heart feels like it is happening in 18th century France. If not for some magical elements, The Beast’s Heart could pass as historical fiction.
  • Fresh POV. While I have read numerous retellings of Beauty and the Beast, none was from Beast’s point of view. This added something new to the ‘tale as old as time’.
  • The untold side of the story. Of course, we all want to know how a beautiful human girl could fall in love with a beast. But what about that beast? What was happening in his head? What did he do all those years alone? Was it premeditated or did he accidentally pick the right girl the first time? What made him fall in love?

“She made me want to be a better person, even it was only to be worthy of her friendship.”

  • Side characters shine, especially Beauty’s sisters Claude and Marie. While in the original fairy tale, Beauty’s sisters are cruel and spoiled, here they are the most inspiring characters. Beast often spies on them through a magic mirror, and Claude and Marie provided a refreshing break from the Beast and Beauty’s monotonous daily routine.

What I Didn’t Like?

  • Not centered on action but on an internal turmoil, as Beast regains his humanity and battles with his inner demons.
  • Boring and slow. I wanted to know what Beast did when he was alone, but some things are better left unknown. Because The Beast’s Heart is full of Beast moping, and wallowing in self-pity.
  • Bland heroine. Isabeau (The Beauty) felt meek and without spark comparing to some other fierce heroines from Beauty and the Beast retellings. Even her sisters were more vivid.

My Rating:

Leife Shallcross weaves a beautiful, detailed tale about the Beast, his inner agitation and unrest. Oh, and there is a love story with a Beauty, buried under a pile of Beast’s inner monologue. If you are looking for an unusual and lyrical retelling of Beauty and The Beast, then The Beast’s Heart might be for you.

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