Of Beast and Beauty

Of Beast and Beauty

4.5 14
by Stacey Jay

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For Cinder fans, a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a flipped script in which the Beauty becomes the Beast . . .
It’s pointless. Hopeless. Even if she weren’t afraid of me, we’ll always be enemies at the core. . . .

In the city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice. Her

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For Cinder fans, a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a flipped script in which the Beauty becomes the Beast . . .
It’s pointless. Hopeless. Even if she weren’t afraid of me, we’ll always be enemies at the core. . . .

In the city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra is raised to be a human sacrifice. Her death will ensure her city’s vitality.
In the desert, a mutant beast named Gem fights to save his people, known as the Monstrous, from starvation.
Neither dreams that, together, they can return balance to their worlds.
When Gem is captured for trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, he becomes a prisoner of the city. Isra enlists his help, and soon begins to care for him—and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. . . .
She’s a queen; I’m her prisoner. I am her monster and she is mine. . . .
“The bones of the classic Beauty and the Beast story are all here, imaginatively fleshed out with tropes from science fiction, fantasy, and even political drama.” —The Bulletin, Recommended
“Jay’s characters are well-realized . . . [the] setup is intriguing and her writing assured.” —Publishers Weekly

“Engrossing tale . . . [an] intense love story.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Revelations and plot twists keep the action flowing and romance growing. . . . A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy.” —School Library Journal

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Editorial Reviews

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
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
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)

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."

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.
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

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.50(d)
830L (what's this?)
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)

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