The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince

The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince

4.0 13
by Serena Valentino, Disney Storybook Art Team
     
 

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A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp--like a beast's! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?

Overview


A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp--like a beast's! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Gr 4-6 Many children grow up with some familiarity with the story of Beauty and the Beast, particularly the Walt Disney version. Readers often admire the beautiful and smart Belle, a devoted daughter and booklover, who is as lovely on the inside as the outside. That she could come to love such a horrific-looking and reclusive creature is testament to her kind nature. And yet, readers know so little of this mysterious Beast and of the spell that caused him to become an outcast within his own kingdom. In this spin-off from Disney's retelling of the old tale, Valentino does her best to expand upon the Beast's side of things: What was it that transformed the handsome and charming Prince into a Beast? Gaston plays a big role in this story, as does a competing love interest of both male characters, Tulip. Belle doesn't appear until toward the end, as this book operates as a prelude to the film. Some new characters add interest, such as the Odd Sisters, a trio of witches spurred by a broken heart and a zeal for revenge. As interesting as that premise is, the book is weighted down by clunky writing, shallow character development, a lack of depth and nuance. It will likely appeal to only the most die-hard fans of the Disney film. Meg Allison, The Moretown School, VT—SLJ

A retelling of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, told from the Beast's perspective. The story opens as the Beast contemplates whether Belle-recently made a prisoner in his castle-will ever come to love him. The timeline then moves backward to the days when the Beast was a human prince, and so begins a story that is predictable-when it isn't entirely ridiculous-and filled with characters as flat as the pages they're written on. As a human prince, the Beast spurns the love of Circe, who turn out to be the younger sister of the "odd sisters," witches whose behavior is so nonsensical it's a wonder they stop cackling long enough to curse him. Though the pre-Beast Prince certainly deserves his curse, whether any actual human being could contain the degree of vanity, selfishness and conceit the Prince exhibits is questionable. One interesting curveball comes in the presentation of the Prince and Gaston (the vain sportsman romantically interested in Belle) as childhood best friends. However, the blandness of the characters negates anything interesting that might have sprung from this twist, which is not nearly enough to save the story as a whole. With clunky writing, an uninspired plot and unbelievably one-dimensional characters (including villains so absurd no one would fear them), this spinoff effort is disappointing at best. (Fantasy. 12-18)—Kirkus

The tale of a beautiful girl transforming a beast to his original princely form is a familiar and often retold one, but the story of how exactly the prince initially came to be cursed and why is less well known. Valentino sets her version of the prince's perspective in the Disney world, with Cogsworth, Lumiere, and even Mrs. Potts all making an appearance. The setting and the plot are far darker here, however, and musical numbers with dancing cutlery are replaced by the internal contemplations of an increasingly melancholic and occasionally violent Beast as he transforms from human to monster. It begins with the Prince's betrayal of Circe, a young maiden whom he initially woos for her beauty and then rejects when he discovers she is merely a pig farmer's daughter. Her older sisters, a trio of magical witches, vengefully cast a spell on the Prince, and the spoiled, selfish man futilely tries to outrun his fate, losing his human form and almost his mind in the process. Valentino is so successful at making the Prince unlikable that he seems nearly irredeemable, and a disjointed timeline makes it difficult to identify the chronology of the moral transformation that must precede his physical one. The combination of the Disney tie-in and the thoughtful, more folkloric elements, though, makes this an interesting choice for readers who've outgrown the pink-princess phase but are still captivated by fairy tales. KQG—BCCB

4Q 4P M This prequel to Beauty and the Beast is presented as a young adult title, yet its layout and format might attract a middle-grade population. The writing is polished and appealing to young teens, with just enough spin on the old tale to encourage young readers to stay with the story. Valentino brings back the Macbethian "Odd Sisters"-young witches with a definite nod to Shakespeare's Weird Sisters-who first appeared in her retelling of Snow White, Fairest of All (Disney, 2009), in which we can see the villain's point of view. The author knows the structure of fairy tales and enhances this one with some new characters who bring life to the "tale as old as time." She also weaves in a few threads from the old film version by Cocteau and hints at Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. Readers learn how the Beast came to be cursed; witness quite a bit of his backstory, as well as those of the other familiar faces, like Belle's father; and feel satisfied by the conclusion and the hopeful message that beauty comes from within. The popularity of television series such as Once Upon a Time and Grimm make this book even more appealing to contemporary young readers. This volume will do well in middle school library collections, as well as medium-sized public libraries with solid tween collections.-Jane Murphy.—VOYA

VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Jane Murphy
This prequel to Beauty and the Beast is presented as a young adult title, yet its layout and format might attract a middle-grade population. The writing is polished and appealing to young teens, with just enough spin on the old tale to encourage young readers to stay with the story. Valentino brings back the Macbethian “Odd Sisters”—young witches with a definite nod to Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters—who first appeared in her retelling of Snow White, Fairest Of All (Disney, 2009), in which we can see the villain’s point of view. The author knows the structure of fairy tales and enhances this one with some new characters who bring life to the “tale as old as time.” She also weaves in a few threads from the old film version by Cocteau and hints at Oscar Wilde’s Picture Of Dorian Gray. Readers learn how the Beast came to be cursed; witness quite a bit of his backstory, as well as those of the other familiar faces, like Belle’s father; and feel satisfied by the conclusion and the hopeful message that beauty comes from within. The popularity of television series such as Once Upon a Time and Grimm make this book even more appealing to contemporary young readers. This volume will do well in middle school library collections, as well as medium-sized public libraries with solid tween collections. Reviewer: Jane Murphy; Ages 11 to 14.
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Many are familiar with the tale of the handsome prince cursed to languish within a beast’s body until the spell can be broken by true love’s kiss. But how did he come to be cursed? The noble, arrogant prince falls in love with the beautiful Circe with her soft blue eyes, comely face and silvery diaphanous gown and plans a grand wedding. Gaston envious of the prince’s good fortune, tells the Prince that Circe is a mere farmer’s daughter and when he sees for himself the girl up to her knees mucking out the pig stalls, he is enraged and breaks the engagement. Circe’s three sisters (witches all) cast the punishing spell that is mitigated by Circe with the caveat that true love’s kiss can break the spell. As days pass and the Prince becomes more grotesque he hides within his castle angry and filled with despair. It is not until he looks deep within himself that he dares to think beyond his vanity and begins the journey that will return him to his human form. This back story for the Beast relies on the Disney variation and so there is jealous Gaston, a housekeeper, Mrs. Potts and faithful servants, Lumiere and Cogsworth and of course, the beautiful Belle. Valentino introduces a Princess Tulip and provides an engaging tale of love lost, anger and revenge, and the revelation that compassion and honesty can transform the beast within and beauty is more than exterior quality. The straightforward tale has drama, moments of levity, and its gentle love story will appeal to younger adolescents. Not a first purchase but certainly a worthy addition for readers who like fairy tale prequels and a little romance. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey; Ages 12 to 14.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-06-04
A retelling of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, told from the Beast’s perspective.The story opens as the Beast contemplates whether Belle—recently made a prisoner in his castle—will ever come to love him. The timeline then moves backward to the days when the Beast was a human prince, and so begins a story that is predictable—when it isn’t entirely ridiculous—and filled with characters as flat as the pages they’re written on. As a human prince, the Beast spurns the love of Circe, who turn out to be the younger sister of the “odd sisters,” witches whose behavior is so nonsensical it’s a wonder they stop cackling long enough to curse him. Though the pre-Beast Prince certainly deserves his curse, whether any actual human being could contain the degree of vanity, selfishness and conceit the Prince exhibits is questionable. One interesting curveball comes in the presentation of the Prince and Gaston (the vain sportsman romantically interested in Belle) as childhood best friends. However, the blandness of the characters negates anything interesting that might have sprung from this twist, which is not nearly enough to save the story as a whole.With clunky writing, an uninspired plot and unbelievably one-dimensional characters (including villains so absurd no one would fear them), this spinoff effort is disappointing at best. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423159124
Publisher:
Disney Press
Publication date:
07/22/2014
Series:
Villains Trilogy Series
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
14,603
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author


Serena Valentino is known for her groundbreaking work on the comic book series GloomCookie and Nightmares & Fairy Tales published by SLG Publishing. Her first novel, Fairest of All, is a fresh take on the story of Disney's Snow White from the perspective of the film's villain, the Wicked Queen.

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The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty's Prince 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. Every true Disney fan needs this in their book collection.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so disappointed this book wasn't sny better then what it was.  The Author's first book Fairest Of All The Story of the Evil Queen, was wonderful. However, this book bored me to tears.  She just drug the story and it didn't keep my interest. I am a huge Disnry Fan and even pre- ordered this book in anticipation that it was going to be as wonderful as her first Disney book. Boy, I was sadly mistaken.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing amazing book! She tied in other Disney tales which makes me think that maybe she will tie in all the stories to make one big series. Hopefully she does because I love how she explains the past of the villains trying to explain what they became. Truly magnificent. I look forward to an Ursula , Lady Tremaine, Jafar or any other story from this author because revamped Disney tales are amazing! 
Darkpromises More than 1 year ago
This book had a very interesting tale to tell from the witches perspectives, haven't watched beauty and the beast in years but I found this to be awesome all around. I never wanted to put it down because of how interesting the chapter had become, this is definitely something to keep on your bookshelf and read again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth it, even if you are a hardcore fan.  While I'm all for novel to go alone with the timeless Disney's Beauty and the Beast, this book failed to deliver any entertainment or satisfaction.  There are many flaws, but the ones I couldn't stand the most about this story was the made up characters (the three pointless witches) taking credit for EVERY single plot point in the original movie.  For example, remember part in the movie where the Beast asks Belle if she is happy and she replies she misses her father?  Well according to this book these threeevil witches are the ones responsible for making Belle miss her father due to their witchy powers they constantly use to screw over the Beast because, ya know, they actually do need to interfere for that to happen!  Stupid stuff like that was happing constantly along with all these non-clever references and tie-ins with other Disney fairy tales and plot points.  Even if you adore Beauty and the Beast, I strongly recommend leaving this one behind.
Rheanna Cantor 25 days ago
CRAZY DISNEY FAN OVER HERE! Some spoilers ahead just to be warned So as you can apparently see, I just love Disney since I grew up with it! I was very excited to read this when I had found it at my local Barnes and Noble store. I had went and bought it and I am very much grateful that I did. Not only is the dust cover really cute, but when you remove it, it shows the Prince. I give it a four out of five stars only because there were times when I couldn't understand what was happening. First, the narrator talks about how the Beast is in the rose gardens, then the next second they jump to when he is turned into the Beast! Then the very next second, they jump to when he was still dating Circe. Nonetheless I really enjoyed the story and how they were talking about The Evil Queen and Ursula and how the Odd Sisters were actually able to manipulate them. As for character development, I think that Serena did a wonderful job in showing how much the Prince was able to change and that we were able to be introduced to the Odd Sisters and Circe.
bwilhoite 10 months ago
I really enjoyed this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It's a story of the Prince before the curse. I loved that the Prince and Gaston were best friends! A few of Disney characters were mentioned in the book and I found that neat.
SoulMan04 More than 1 year ago
I think the book, The Beast Within, was a really good book. It tells you the whole backstory of the beast and how he came to be that way. You see, the beast wasn't always like that. Instead, he was a prince but he was a very mean and demanding prince and he wanted to look for love. First he took in a beautiful maiden named, Circe, who he thought was a princess but was actually a pig farmer's daughter. When the beast found out, he stormed away. For Circe she was really sad and her witch sisters came over and cast a enchantment on the prince and his castle. The curse would make the prince into a beast and transform the servants into household items if the beast didn't change his ways. The only part I didn't like was that they put in very little of Belle. My favorite part was when all of the servants started turning into household items, starting with Cogsworth. We all know he became the miniature grandfather clock:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Beauty &the Beast and this book is a must have for Disney addicts and people who love the Tale Old As Time like I do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beauty and the Beast has been my all time favorite since I was little. This book gave such great detail on what was happening from the Beast point of view, how much he really was struggling on the inside which makes the story a little darker. How there was more to the curse than the original story tells us. I could of kept reading if there was more.  Since they are now coming out with a live action movie, it will be interesting if part of the story will be told from the Beast point of view. I think that would be amazing. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it, absolutely loved it. This is a book ive been waiting for, a pov from one of my favorite disney characters. Though the story differs a bit from the movie, I cant say I didnt enjoy it. The cool little explanations for things and the beefed up curse were great. Plus that gaston thing was quite a twist I think. All the stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are few books I've started that I couldn't finish reading but this one of them.  I tried ignoring the blatant inconsistencies with the Beauty and the Beast movie and within the book itself.  Then the author insults me with calling something Buttchinland;  I'm not sure if this is meant to be some sort of clever reference to Gaston from the movie but it falls short as nothing but shoddy effort and distasteful.  It feels like the author put no effort into creating a coherent story and instead is just throwing random references in from the movie and shoving this rubbish upon the reader.