Title: Of Beast and Beauty
Author: Stacey Jay
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
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.
-Summary from Goodreads.com
My Review: I am a sucker for retelling and fairy tales. I read Princess of Thorns by this author and loved it, so after I finished that I immediately got my hands on this book. Of Beast and Beauty puts a sci-fi twist on Beauty and the Beast that I found fascinating. It took place in a world where the god, for lack of a better way to describe it, is split in two, one good and one evil. Interestingly enough, the evil spirit watches over the “smooth skins” who are people without blemish (for the most part) and live within the only cities left surrounded by walls to keep others out. There are monarchs that rule in these lands and every so often the queen must sacrifice herself to keep their lands prosperous. The good half of the spirit has been suppressed for far too long and has left for the lands outside of the walled cities to live in a wasteland. The “monsters” who live in those desert lands starve and perish very quickly. To break the curse in this world a smooth skin has to fall in love with a “monster” and after that happens all the lands will be prosperous again. Too bad neither of them ever see one another and hate each other fiercely. Enter, Gem and Isra.
Watching the two interact together and slowly learn not to hate one another was so sweet. These two have centuries of embedded hatred for each other’s people to overcome. Once they can start to get past that and slowly appreciate each other is when it really starts to get interesting. I loved the slow build of the romance and how the two of them learned more about themselves as they got to know one another.
I loved the world itself and all of the legends and interesting mythology that came with it. Overall, just a great read.