Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge
Author: Lisa Jensen
Publisher: Candlewick (July 10, 2018)
Hardcover, 352 pages
They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.
|Rating: 3.5 stars|
I have to start with a trigger warning: there is a rape scene early on in the book. This review will touch on the impact of that on Lucie, so consider yourself warned if you decide to read on.
I was constantly surprised by this book, and I love when an author takes a well known fairy tale and gives it a different spin, views it from another angle, takes it down a different path. This Beauty & the Beast story is told from the point of view of a maid named Lucie, who finds work in the house of Jean-Loup (who is the handsome and arrogant prince of this story for all intents and purposes). She’s infatuated with his handsome face and gets a rather brutal awakening when he lures her to his room one night and rapes her. The rest of the book has a lot of content dealing with Lucie’s feelings about being raped and her desire to get revenge on Jean-Loup. The witch or enchantress or whatever she is arrives and turns Jean-Loup into a Beast, and Lucie – who desires to watch him suffer – she turns into a candlestick so she may stand silent sentinel while Jean-Loup pays his penance.
I’m seeing a LOT of 1 star DNF reviews for this book that are upset, and I can’t really go into that without spoilers, so THERE ARE SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT!
Are you ready? Here come some spoilers.
I warned you.
Lucie does end up falling in love with Beast, and a LOT of people are outraged that she falls in love with her rapist. The author justifies this by explaining that Jean-Loup is basically a parasite that has taken over Beast’s life-force, so while Beast is sleeping within the handsome body of Jean-Loup, and Jean-Loup is then trapped within the animal body of Beast, they’re not really the same person? Also in the end Lucie is able to completely banish Jean-Loup from Beast’s being so the personality that raped her no longer exists within him. Basically, don’t look at it too closely or you’ll break the delicate suspension of disbelief. Now you can take from that what you will, decide you’re OK with it or that it’s garbage and she’s with the man who raped her. To me, Beast is an entirely different personality and also a different body than Jean-Loup, so it didn’t bother me.
The spell turning Jean-Loup into Beast can only be broken if someone agrees to marry him in his beastly form, so when Rose (aka Beauty) comes around and starts getting some delusions of grandeur, Lucie is immediately on her guard. Past wishing to watch Jean-Loup suffer, Lucie has grown to care for Beast and knows that if Rose should marry him it will mean the return of the evil Jean-Loup. I love that Rose is kind of a pain in the ass. I also love the weaving of elements from the original verion(s) of the story with the Disney version (hello, talking candlestick much?) I’m not saying this book doesn’t have its issues, but overall I liked it and it was definitely a very original take on the beauty and the beast story. That being said, this definitely isn’t a story for everyone.