Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenger, Lisa Jensen
When I saw this retelling amongst the awe-array of titles out this month -- a fairytale I have read retold a lot (I cannot overstate how many I have read), do you think I thought, "I'm weary of those"?  I did not.  I thought immediately, "I'm in."  Because like tales first penned by Grimm and Anderson  (which I'm also prone to revisit readily), Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve framed a shamelessly moral tale and doused it generously with loss, darkness and triumph.  That's a schema worth employing time and time again.  I also relish how retellings feed an ever-evolving storytelling tradition.  So I went in happy.  And even better than the dose of loss, darkness and triumph I was expecting, I found the strongest synthesis of the original story's elements I've ever read.  Enchantments, features and minutiae I've often seen included, it seemed, for faithfulness or tribute's sake, were in Jensen's narrative, integral and even unifying.  I had so many moments where I felt the familiar-yet-fragmented elements of Beauty and the Beast were explained and enhanced for Jensen having intepreted them.  It's quite an accomplishment.  And the writing is fluid and intelligent.  There is brief time where pacing slows (enough to cause me small alarm), but almost immediately, it picks up beautifully.  A final highlight: an incredibly worthy moral about virtue is drawn out and brought to the fore in a way I haven't often seen, and I very much approve.  

So, if you, like me, find your hand already grasping before you've read any blurbage for a retelling such as this, I can assure you, this delivers.  But, please note...

Advisory comment: Because of a disturbing scene of sexual violence, I would exercise caution reaching/recommending for anyone who has suffered such trauma or who falls on the younger end of the YA continuum.  Sensuality is otherwise limited to references to dalliances.  I'd hazard 16/17+. 

Review copy received from Walker.
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