Of Beast and Beauty

Of Beast and Beauty

4.5 15
by Stacey Jay

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In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from


In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Hundreds of years after humans landed on a distant planet, Smooth Skins live in protective domes that keep out the scaly skinned Desert People, whom they call Monstrous. Blind since childhood, 17-year-old Princess Isra makes clandestine nighttime visits to the dome's rose garden. Someday, as queen, she will have to shed her blood to water the roses and keep the city secure. To save their people from starvation, a Monstrous raiding party attempts to steal the roses and their magic. Isra demands that 19-year-old Gem be spared. She hopes that he can help her raise plants to stop the scaling skin that could doom her to banishment. Slowly Isra comes to see both literally and figuratively the deformities and mistreatment of the Banished inside the city and the injustices done to the Desert People outside. Gem realizes that Isra, too, is a prisoner, destined to marry Bo, whose powerful father manipulates events to make sure his son will rule the kingdom. Eventually Isra learns that the queens' bloodletting actually feeds an evil Dark Heart beneath the flowers. Only love between a Smooth Skin and a Monstrous can break an ancient curse. Isra, Gem, and Bo narrate chapters of this reimagining of the familiar tale. Isra and Gem reluctantly acknowledge their growing attraction that deepens into love. Bo, who might have emerged as a villain, instead questions the need for sacrifice and resists his father's demands. Explanations of complex history and legend slow the pace at times, but revelations and plot twists keep the action flowing and romance growing. Variations of conventions such as having a Monstrous attempt to steal roses and bring the dying princess to life are overshadowed by the final transformation of Isra, Gem, and their people into something entirely new, both Beast and Beauty. A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Publishers Weekly
In Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed, Jay gave an apocalyptic twist to Romeo and Juliet, and now she does so with the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” On a far-flung planet, the descendants of humanity have evolved into two camps: Smooth Skins live in domed cities, while the Monstrous—deformed by the influence of a goddess—scrape by outside, hated and feared. Does it make sense to draw an analogy to “Beauty and the Beast” when nearly every character is a mutant, rather than just one cursed individual? In any case, Jay’s characters are well-realized, and Isra, a blind princess destined to be sacrificed for her city, and Gem, a reluctant Monstrous warrior, have much more than superficial appearances to negotiate. There is a personal, romantic side to their struggle, but it’s the ideological, cultural, and cosmic perils that threaten to overwhelm them. Even if the story has only a tenuous relationship to the claimed source material, Jay’s setup is intriguing and her writing assured. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ginger Clark, Curtis Brown. (July)
Brad's Books Blog
Absolutely original and utterly captivating...Enthralling and darkly peculiar,Of Beast and Beauty is a fantastic, radiant read! -5 Stars
The Happy Booker
Of Beast and Beauty is absolutely one of the best, if not the best, book of 2013 and will have a permanent place on my favorites shelf...outstanding writing and brilliant storytelling. -5 Stars
Scott Reads It
It's a rare, beautiful experience when a book totally catches you off guard and completely exceeded all expectations. -5 Stars
Paranormal Indulgence Blog
My God, man. What an incredible story...Jay has done daring, beautiful things with [Of Beast and Beauty] that make it one of those unparalleled stories you have a hard time expressing your gratitude for...It is undoubtedly one of my favorites of this year.
The Bookish Brunette Blog
Stacey Jay completely blew me away with the rich, colorful world in Of Beast and Beauty. Gem and Irsa have taken seats upon my favorite couples AND characters lists! This one is not to be missed! -5 Stilettos
From the Publisher
School Library Journal, August 2013:
"A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy."

Justine, August/September 2013:
"The romance in this book is as lush, wild and thorny as the magic roses that protect the doomed city of Yuan! This re-imagined version of classic Beauty and the Beast is all the more addicting because the two man characters are misfits who slowly develop their love through shared goals, secret whispers and intense chemistry."

From the Hardcover edition.

VOYA - Dawn Talbott
Princess Isra has grown up knowing that her life will be sacrificed for the benefit of her people, the Smooth Skins. Though she is blind, she sees the needs of her subjects, and even wants to further help the Banished ones that are hated and condemned to a miserable existence at edges of their domed city. These humans are treated as animals because they display the traits of the Monstrous, a distorted race that lives in the desert outside the domes. When Gem, one of these mutants, is captured trying to steal the city's magic roses to save his people from starving, Isra's life changes. As more and more secrets of Isra's world come to light, Isra must choose between the destiny laid before her, or her feelings for this monster and his people's welfare, as well as her own. Author Jay does a fantastic job creating a modern-day version of the Beauty and the Beast tale with a science fiction flair and a dark twist. The characters are very well developed, and switching viewpoints between the leads allows readers to know and care deeply about them. As Isra's world changes, readers grow with her and are shocked by the revelations. While hope dwindles, readers will pull hard for their characters. Even though it is a familiar story, Jay recreates it in a fresh new way, with plenty of suspense and intrigue. There is plenty of action and just enough romance to make the story believable and engaging. It is a great update of a classic fairy tale. Reviewer: Dawn Talbott
Children's Literature - Zella Cunningham
The continued existence of two cultures, the Smooth Skins and the Monstrous, depends on love. When the humans first arrive by ship to this land, their bodies are not equipped to endure the climate. Their bodies begin to adapt to their surroundings. Before the adaptation can be completed for all the people, the unchanged people rush inside the walled city, locking the others outside. Thus creates the division of the Smooth Skins and the Monstrous. Princess Isra lives in the lush city of Yuan, which is covered by a protective dome. The inhabitants are the Smooth Skins. Princess Isra, the blind seventeen-year-old daughter of the king, is a Smooth Skin but on a hidden portion of her body grows the scales of the Monstrous. Gem is a man of nineteen who has come, with his father and brother, on a mission to take one of the rose bushes whose magic gives Yuan its rich soil. The Monstrous are starving. They have heard of these special roses and believe that if they can steal some of the bushes they can save their starving community. The mission must not fail. A plot to steal the rose bushes is botched when the raiding party is discovered, the king is killed, and Gem is captured. Isra is now queen and decides to keep Gem alive because she believes he holds the secret to a healing that can help her people. Gem tries to win Isra’s trust so that he can still secure the bush that will save his people from starvation. Against what they have both been taught, the attraction grudgingly blossoms between Isra and Gem. As Isra and Gem discover the lies, deception, and betrayal of the flawed history on which their lives are built, they must decide what the truth is. Reviewer: Zella Cunningham; Ages 14 up.
Kirkus Reviews
A hybrid fantasy/science-fiction retelling of "Beauty and the Beast." Seventeen-year old Princess Isra of the Smooth Skin people and 19-year-old Desert Man ("Monstrous" to Isra) Gem have nothing in common save a hatred of each other's people. So when a botched attempt to steal enchanted roses leaves the king of Yuan--Isra's father--dead and Gem captured, the last thing the pair expects is to become friends. As their friendship grows, Isra and Gem takes turns narrating their attempt to puzzle together a history whose pieces don't quite fit. While readers learn that the enchanted roses--watered by the blood of queens--that fuel the domed city of Yuan are powered by the Dark Heart, it's never clear how and why this great evil split from its counterpart, the Pure Heart. What is clear, however, is that it is sucking the life from the outside world, leaving the Monstrous to inhabit an inhospitable desert. Isra, blind and insecure, doesn't believe she has the strength to change things, but the love that blossoms between her and Gem will give her the courage to change the course of history for both of their peoples. Uneven worldbuilding, a sometimes rocky plot and an unbelievably fantastical ending take away from this engrossing tale. Romance fans may forgive its shortcomings for the sake of the intense love story. (Fantasy/science fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
830L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this


It's been a really long time since a book made my heart speed up, my breathing shallow because I was so engrossed...It's just been a while since a book managed to truly blow me away. --(Bookseller Review from Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore)


Stacey Jay really takes ownership of the story. She truly transforms this classic love tale, breathing new and creative life into an old plot line. Of Beast and Beauty is a fantastic young adult romance. --(Bookseller Review from Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore)

Meet the Author

STACEY JAY is the author of the popular Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed and several other books for young adults. She lives in California with her family.

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Of Beast and Beauty 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
 After finishing this book I'm stuck thinking to myself "Did I read the same book as everyone else? I think I did it wrong."  Everyone I'm friends with on Goodreads LOVED it and I was struggling not to DNF it. The only reason I plowed through it was because I didn't have anything else to read. I had so many books that I was waiting on but none had arrived yet.       I wanted to love this so bad. If you know me, you know that my favorite fairy tale of all time is Beauty and the Beast. To me it portrays the story of true love, seeing past any imperfections they may have while they're still perfect for you. And don't get me wrong, it DID have all the elements of the story I love, like the roses, the magic, the unconditional love, the Beauty, the Beast, and even the books were thrown in there, but that's about it.      I also loved the world building. I could see all the domes and the way the new world looks in my head as I read. And the way the Monstrous were described helped me come up with the way they looked in my head. Even the desolate plains of the Desert (no mater how brief their stint there) stood out in my head. But unfortunately those were the only things I really came to care about.       One thing I didn't like was the writing style. I found myself confused by all the time jumps. In the book it goes from them talking and then it'll say randomly that its been months. I'm not sure if its because I have a Nook Book and the pages weren't broken right, but the time jumps were weird and they threw me off. I also felt like there was nothing going on. So many times I wanted to put down the book because I was bored. The plot was literally like this /\________/\_________ Every time something happened it fell off again and I wanted to put it down. And of course that plot twist, I guessed it from the very beginning. Lastly, the beginning was an info dump. Had it been spread out through the story I might have enjoyed it more. I had to take more notes in the beginning than I did the entire story.       Then there is the romance. I felt kind of weird about the way they hated each other one day and then fell in love the next and then he was still not be truthful with her. For it to be Beauty and the Beast it didn't feel like real love to me. Only on Isra's part. Gem was flaky and didn't end up really trusting her. And Bo was every bit a lunatic as his father. It was a lot going on with the characters for the plot to be so boring.       I'm not sure what about this novel hooked all the other readers, but unfortunately I was not one of them. I intended to love this one, but I just couldn't get into it. And for that, I truly am sad. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the summer (and the year) and it did nothing for me. Hopefully everyone else will love it more than I did. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know those romance stories that you hear about. The ones that are so beautiful that they bring people to tears. I have read many love stories but none of them moved me as much as this one did. I am not the lovey dovey kinda person. I perfer books that are more action type. But i ready do love this book. I hate books that make two people fall in love so quickly. I mean i dont want them to drag it out but come on lets be real-istick. Lets just say that Isra and Gem's feelings for each other is not love at first sight. In fact they hate each other for more than half the book. Gem even dreams about killing Isra. And when they finally do fall in love they are still at each other's throats. It takes one of them to almost die for them to relize they need to stop fighting. Even when they are yelling at each other and Gem is saying and thinking tarrible things, you know they still love each other. Anyway it is a spin off of Beauty and the Beast with a little Romio and Juliet with out it being so cheesy. Two words to descride this book: painfuly beautiful. ( p.s. sorry if i miss spell some stuff or if the words dont make sence. I am a reader not a writter. Lol :P )
Anonymous 11 months ago
Great book 8)
Readergirl_Revus More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of recreations of fairy tales, but this one was definitely unique to others like it.  First of all, this Beauty and the Beast tale takes place in a dystopian-type world, but I'm not sure it's actually Earth.  It's almost like a complete fantasy all the way around.  And rather than the heroine being the captive of the beast, it's the other way around there too.  Although, they're both prisoners of a sort, as the heroine is locked away in a tower away from people, told that it's for her own good because she's ugly, and is treated like a prisoner.  Even after she becomes queen, they still want to keep her under lock and key and treat her like she's mad. I'm not usually a fan of high fantasy type stories, but this one was very interesting and intriguing, and I loved the romance involved so much that it really did suck me in.  A very interesting concept.  The romance was one of the most fulfilling pieces of this story.  These are two people who are not only different, but sort of a different species due to an ancient curse that turns one set of their people into beasts.  Her growing love for him, however, was so believable.  They become friends first, and then the feelings begin to develop.  The slow progression of the romance made it more realistic, and much more rewarding to read.  They learn to love each other despite generations of prejudice and hatred. The story itself was unique and mysterious.  The revelation of what's truly occurring was surprising, but very smart.  But one of the best things about the story was the writing itself. This story was beautiful written.  The settings and world building were rich in detail, without bogging the reader down with useless description.  It was poetic and lyrical, and there were times that I was like "wow" about the way things were worded or described.  Beautiful writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Books4Tomorrow More than 1 year ago
Set on a planet where magic exists, humans mutate if they don't live in a domed city and a ruling class oppresses the less fortunate, this is a tale of romance, difficult choices and sacrifice. Isra, thinking that she is tainted, wants to find a cure for herself as well as for those in the city who are banished because of the taint. Gem only wants the secret to surviving for his monstrous desert people. Working together seems almost impossible and yet, it may be the answer to the planet's problems. Although this comfortably paced book was a bit heavy on the romance side for me, the buildup of suspense and the riveting action towards the end of the story made up for it. Apart from the Beauty and the Beast connotation of the story, there was a point when I thought we were going to see a Romeo and Juliet re-enactment as well. The characters are well crafted and realistic. Despite the fact that I don't think a blind person can safely jump from a tower and from roof to roof, I think the author generally created an accurate picture of blindness. Delightfully rebellious, Isra is the kind of character who grows and develops throughout the story. When her sight returns, however, Isra experiences the true sense of the phrase, 'an eye opener'. Just as skillfully crafted, Gem, the second main character, is determined to save his people and, ultimately, murder Isra. I was really caught up in his inner battle whether he should love or kill Isra.  Although both main characters just want to save their own people in the beginning of the book, as their feelings for one another grow, so do their desire to help everybody. In the end it comes down to nail-biting suspense as they waver on choices while time for everyone is running out. Bo, the third party in what some might call a love triangle, is a thoroughly flawed character. I really couldn't decide whether I liked him or not as his loyalty to Isra is doubtful right up to the end.  This is a tale of sacrifice; both the good and the bad kind. I would recommend this book to readers of all ages as a relaxing read with a hint of fairy tale in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beauty and the Beast completely reimagined and breathtaking. It was beyond my expectations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BBandReveries More than 1 year ago
Loved every minute of this book.  It had the perfect blend of sci-fi, romance, and fantasy with a dash of political intrigue.  I would highly recommend you read it this beautiful and one-of-a-kind re-telling...and then tell your friends to read it! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was awsome and had an ending that will leave any reader satified
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was fantastic! It is a book that I will read again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WishEnd More than 1 year ago
I love the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast. I went through a stage a couple of years ago where I read every retelling based on it that I could get my hands on. When I saw that Stacey Jay had written a book based off of the fairy tale I was very excited. One thing I will say, at this point, is that she did a fabulous job in taking the concept and storyline and really making her own original story. She uses beauty, beast, and the roses in very creative ways and this was probably one of the things that stuck out to me the most about this book. It is definitely unique. DISLIKES: I wish that Isra would have been stronger sooner. I understand how she was basically hidden away and was also blind, but when she takes over for her father I wanted her to step more fully into her role. I also thought she was definitely more trusting than she should have been. My bigger dislike was the sexual content. There isn't any actual sex in this book, but there are several references to it and one specific part where there is some making out that crossed a line for me. It isn't necessarily descriptive per se, but I didn't think it needed to be included and not something I would let my nieces or daughter read. LIKES: I really liked the setting - this new world that the smooth people came to and the way the inhabitants evolved to survive the climate. It was interesting to follow the story and how the current civilization and state of the world came to be. I liked that the author didn't make parts of the society or characters one dimensional or think all the same. Each group has at least one individual who does not blindly follow everyone else. The roses are a surprising part of the story. They are quite manipulative and vindictive, but can seem serene and sweet. That was quite an interesting twist to me. I liked the characters. Isra yearns for the wind outside the dome, for her family, to understand others, and specifically Gem after she meets him. She has been raised only to sacrifice herself for her people and that is what she believes she will do and do willingly when the time will come. She is compassionate, intelligent, and beautiful. Gem is also compassionate even though he is a warrior. He lies to Isra, but struggles with doing so. He is quite stubborn, but also fearless and smart. I also liked Bo. He is selfish, arrogant, and manipulating, but he still cares for Isra and even when he feels he has been betrayed he still seeks to protect her. He has an important role in this story and he plays it well. I think he would have eventually made a good king. Overall, this was worth the read. If there would have been just a little less sexual content, it would have been a book I would keep for my shelves and to share. Having said that, I still really enjoyed reading it. Content: Some innuendo, making out, and violence.
DvoraQD More than 1 year ago
This book was another interesting twist on another great classic by Stacey Jay. She has a unique talent to take a classic and make it her own without losing the idea and beauty of the original. The slight twist at the end of the book made this tales original idea even more beautiful than the classic. Stacey has created a world that we would all love to live in one day. Just like in all of her books, she brings out so much emotion. It's an intense roller coaster ride with twists and turns, crying, laughing and love. This book is a must read for anyone that loves love. I highly recommend it to everyone!