Paperback 416 pages ~ YA fantasy
Paperback February 2019 ~ Ace Publishing
My Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★✫
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 château 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 château. 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. _____________________________________________________________________________
Note: I was provided with an ARC of The Beast’s Heart through NetGalley and Berkley/Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.
I have always loved classic fairy tale retellings, Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites, and The Beast’s Heart definitely did justice to the amazing story. There was so much to love here so I will start with what I loved most.
What I loved:
- The POV of the Beast was, of course, my favorite part of this book. It added a really fresh take on a story that has been told so many times. I really liked the connection to the Beast’s family and his legacy/heritage through the portrait of his Grandmother. Also, the legacy of his father that he desperately wanted to escape. This made the Beast a really well rounded, fully fleshed-out, human character rather than just a mythical fairy tale figure.
- The magic, the land/house, and invisible servants- I really loved that the magic of the land and the house was connected to Isabeau’s arrival. However, I loved that in this version, Isabeau stays of her own accord. The Beast never wants her to stay with him because of her potential to break the curse. He is not even aware of this possibility until at least halfway into the book. Instead, he is interested in her as a person, and their conversations reflect this mutual interest. I also appreciated that Shallcross didn’t attempt to recreate the servants as enchanted tea-cups, and teapots, etc. Instead, they are invisible forces tied to the house and land that seem to be orchestrating things the best they can.
- Writing Style- the writing was reminiscent of an old fashion classic – think Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters- I really liked this style and thought that it added another interesting layer to the story.
What I didn’t love:
- My biggest complaint with the book was that there wasn’t much in the way of conflict between the Beast and Isabeau. While I loved that Isabeau was given a choice in whether she stayed with the Beast or not, this really caused a lack of tension in their relationship. This story is typically one of unlikely friendship/love, but there was nothing really unlikely here. They share mutual respect and admiration right from the beginning. They are considerate and polite to each other and Isabeau never once seems frightened of the Beast. They seem to really like each other, if not love, pretty early on. Therefore, there is no conflict or suspense.
- While there is no tension between the Beast and Isabeau, there is tension between the sisters and their father/the Beast and Isabeau’s father. However, this tension is also very simply resolved. I never felt like the book reached any point of tension or suspense. When it did, it was resolved rather quickly.
- As much as I loved the connection to the Beast’s family legacy, I really wanted more. I would have loved some flashbacks that showed the relationship between him and his Grandmother/him and his father, rather than just being told what their relationships were like. It’s called the Beast’s Heart, and I really wanted details and experiences that showed what shaped his heart other than Isabeau. All the time spend watching Isabeau’s family would have been better spent diving deeper into the Beast’s character because he was really the most interesting part of the novel.