Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.
So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.
Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
“Fairy tales are about lessons. Those who are virtuous and true are rewarded, while those who are wicked and greedy are punished.”
This was one of the most amazing retellings of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve ever read. The premise that Beauty was the hunter, rather than the “damsel” in distress that has to deal with being a prisoner in an amazing castle. Forget what you know about the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, because this was nothing like it. In fact, I think the lack of musicals and talking furniture made the story better in my eyes.
According to the original story of Beauty and the Beast – the original French version that does not get enough credit – Beauty had two sisters that she needed to take care of. I have seen some versions where her sisters are not friendly, almost similar to Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters and how they are cruel to her because of her beauty. In this case, she was responsible for making sure that her sisters had food to eat, and served as a second hunter after her father.
In the beginning of the story, they lived in the town and her family was rich as her father made a lot of money as a merchant. However, all that changed when he lost his entire fleet in a storm, essentially bringing them from riches to rags in a matter of seconds. They had to sell their belongings, and move to the cabin where they lost their mom. In a way, Yeva was glad to go back to her roots because she was always looking for something more, something different from the confines of the Baroness’s social visits and dealing with the politics of the town. So when she had to go back to the cabin and have access to the woods she grew up in, going back to hunting which was what she loved, she was more than happy to leave. If it wasn’t for her father’s pain, it would have almost been a blessing.
But then something bad happened to her father, and she was hell-bent on revenge, leaving her sisters to fend for themselves while she was on the hunt for the creature that destroyed her rock. She had always heard stories about the Beast in the woods, the elusive creature that her father could never find no matter how many times he went out to search. He knew the area like the back of his hand, and yet there was no way that he could find it. So when Yeva’s father did not come home, there was only one thing that she could do.
She had to kill the Beast.
One of the elements that I appreciated about this book was the fact that there was no typical love story between Yeva and the Beast. It was not forced, it wasn’t something that seemed to come out of nowhere after being imprisoned in a castle for months at a time. It wasn’t pushed along by the castle’s inhabitants trying to convince her to let the Beast in, unlike Disney’s animated version. She really wanted her revenge, she really wanted to kill the Beast and there was no way that she was going to allow herself to feel anything other than hatred for him, and that’s how it went for the longest time.
Yeva was so strong, so steadfast in her resolve that she endured being alone, her family probably thinking that she was dead. And when she was forced to train based on orders from the Beast, she did everything in her power to make sure that she did well, that she trained harder and faster than she ever did before. She discovered that there was so much more to the woods than she thought, that in fact there was another world completely surrounding the one that she lived in, and it was there that she would be able to break the curse that would have her confined to being lonely. She was one of my favorite characters of any book that I’ve read and I’m so glad that despite everything that happened, she does end up getting a good ending.
Whether you like the Beast or not is up for debate, and his story is one that is not based on him being an ugly person inside, or treating people like they are trash. No, his backstory is one that goes back farther than any we’ve heard before, and is something mythical in its own right. Does it make you feel empathy for him? Does it make you wish that he was more like the Beast from the Disney animated version? It depends. But in all honesty, this was one of the stories that I will never forget, and one of the stories that will forever remain in my heart.
Rated: 5/5 ★