Reviewed on 22nd March 2019

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

Genre: Fantasy / Fiction / Romance
The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross Synopsis

A luxuriously magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in seventeenth-century France–and told from the point of view of the Beast himself.
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….

The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross Review

Finding Beauty in the Beast

I love a good fairy-tale, I am a sucker for a well-written rewrite. When I first saw the ARC of this book I knew I had to have it. A cracked mirror, a royal purple background, the title… I was sold. (I was lucky enough to receive this version as an advanced reader copy – but the cover released for sale is just as beautiful.) I needed this book and I needed it now. Yet this book sat unread on my shelf for months after I got it. I am not 100% sure why it did, but it happened. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to read yet another Beauty and the Beast rewrite. Maybe I was waiting for the right moment. Who knows?

Nevertheless, I eventually picked it up and dived straight in. Do you know the first thing that got me after reading the first page? The caliber of Shallcross’ writing. I don’t know why but it really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting the Beast to have such eloquent and intelligent thoughts and that alone began to stir something deep inside me. Something that made me turn the page and read on.

I have always had a deep fascination with the Beast, haven’t you? There is just something about a rude arrogant Prince being cursed to be a monster that pulls me in. Throw in his kidnapping of a girl against her will and you have me. Suddenly all I want to know is what makes him tick, is he the monster the enchantress claims he is? Is his Beauty just suffering from extreme Stockholm Syndrome? Or is he just a lonely misguided soul craving for just a shred of human warmth love and kindness.

Shallcross convinces me he is the latter. Her beast is the best version of the one I have always had in my head. He is still rude and prone to temper tantrums but behind it all, he is caring, intelligent and dare I say it … loveable. It is the first time I have really seen the Beast as human. The way she writes him and pulls me into his deepest thoughts and desires, I can’t hate him. I don’t want to.  I see too much of myself in him to do that.

His insecurities touched my soul and made my heart align with his. Deep down through it all, he is just trying to be a good person. His ways and motives are horrendously wrong quite a lot of the time, but still, I find myself forgiving him… cheering him on. Shallcross made me see the beauty inside his soul and that held me prisoner until there were no pages left to read.

Yet while I adored the Beast and the book, in general, I was still so confused at the end. Did I enjoy it? Looking back now I say I did but honestly, there were parts I didn’t like. One, in particular, being the attempted suicide of Isabaeu’s farther. Now I know that this can be seen as a plot spoiler but I feel like it is still important to discuss. Because personally, it was difficult to read, not because of what it is, but how it was written and treated. It was just poorly executed and it made me cringe.

Shallcross had been taking me on a journey pitched at a speed that was perfect for the subject matter and for the changing tides of my Beast’s heart. Yes, I see him as mine- that’s how clever she is.  Then suddenly that speed changed, in dropped such a heavy and important plot vehicle and it was there and gone so quick I didn’t know how to react. Actually thinking about it, I think it annoyed the hell out of me. Personally, there weren’t enough pages left to properly deal with it and it actually really upsets me to say that if I re-read it I would gloss over it. I don’t want to gloss over it, I should never see something like that as an annoyance and yet I did and I feel terrible. I hate that I am writing that.

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This is why even though I can’t commend her highly enough for giving me my Beast with his beautiful heart, I don’t think I will be reading this book again anytime soon. I will never get rid of my copy, oh no, I still love it too much for that. It will always have a place in my heart and I will always be glad I read it but for me, there will always be that little seed of guilt that undercuts the pleasure I felt. So until I can come to terms with this I am afraid that this book will sit on my shelf again beautiful but untouchable.

Published by: Ace Books
ISBN: 978-044000-177-5

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