Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen
Candlewick, 2018
Hardcover. 352 pages.

I started off the week with a book inspired by a fairy-tale, so I'm continuing the trend with a retelling! As you may have guessed, Beast is a retelling of the classic and well-loved story Beauty and the Beast, and it's one retelling that really turns the story on its head.

This was such a roller coaster for me and had me constantly changing my mind and guessing where things would go next. I can safely say that Beast is entirely unpredictable at almost all parts of the story, and I truly did not know at the end whether I would fully love or hate this book. In the end, however, I very much enjoyed this book and was also so pleased where the story ended, as it felt incredibly satisfying on all points and caused me to just back and think about what a gorgeous and well-told tale this was.

Before I get into the real bulk of this review, I just want to note that this book is not going to be for everyone. Back when I read Alias Hook, I discovered that Jensen's writing style was very unique, somewhat dense due to her descriptions, and fairly divisive. Personally, I love it, so I already knew that if people disliked Beast for the writing style that that would be fine with me. After finishing the book, I went to Goodreads and noticed a lot of DNFs for this book and I just want to say that this is a book in which the ending/reveals are crucial to understanding the events prior to that, so DNF-ing too early will not give a good impression of what this book is really about. There is also a content warning here for rape, which you might be able to guess is coming, but also feels sort of out nowhere, so do be aware of that (more information at the end of this review). Now all that aside, let's jump into my review!

As far as retellings go, this one was incredibly unique to me. The way Jensen takes the original storyline and twists it fully into her own story was incredible well-executed. What I most enjoyed was how many elements from the original story and actively engaged with the themes and plot points used in the original, which in turn created an extremely thoughtful and through-provoking story. There is such a fine line between not changing a retelling enough and changing it too much, and Jensen balanced the line perfectly. In addition to this is Jensen's gorgeous prose that flows so easily and makes it easy to just keep reading and never want to put the book down. There were so many lines that I had to highlight because of how relevant they felt to life, no matter the time period or situation, and that is always a sign of a great writer to me.

There are not all that many characters in this book, with the main ones being Lucie, Jean-Loup/Beast, the wisewoman, and eventually Rose. Lucie is an incredibly interesting character and one who constantly surprised me with her actions and let her desire for vengeance and justice overtake her--both of which felt entirely justified to me, so I found myself completely immersed in watching how she navigated all of her emotions and the circumstances she was thrust into.

I don't want to say much about Jean-Loup/Beast because of the potential for giving away too much, but suffice to say he was, at different times, a combination of: frustrating, horrible, wonderful, and confusing, but at all times he was compelling. The last character I want to mention is the wisewoman, and she is probably my favorite from this book. She really lived up the 'wise' part of her name and I loved her personality, despite how little she showed up in the book. I really enjoyed her different roles in this book and how she handled various situations.

This is a slow, completely character-focused book, so if you need action and constant plot intrigue to keep you engaged, you might not enjoy this one as much as I did. If you don't mind a slow plot, descriptive prose, and a majorly character-centric story, then I would absolutely recommend you give it a shot. Also, if you are a diehard fan of the original story, then I really have no idea if you'll this one or not (and if you are and you do read it, do let me know your thoughts!). My sister is obsessed with all things Beauty and the Beast now has a copy of Beast and I am so interested to hear her thoughts on it as someone who loves the original the so much.

Overall, I've given Beast four stars!

Content warning: As mentioned, there is a rape scene at the beginning of the book that is not overly graphic, but could still be a bit much for some people. There is also an attempted suicide (not graphic) in this book.

Buy the book: Amazon | Book Depository

*I received an ARC of Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge courtesy of Candlewick and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating or enjoyment of the book.*

You might also like:
Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge
Circe  by Madeline Miller
Heartless by Marissa Meyer


  1. I'm always on the lookout for a good retelling! The only thing that gives me pause is that I normally enjoy plot-driven books more than character-driven books.

  2. This sounds awesome!! Thanks about the heads up about DNFing too early!!