When I saw another blogger write that this book is a “retelling of Beauty and the Beast”, my first thoughts were “Oh no, not another one”. Then I opened the cover and read the first few chapters…and didn’t put it down until I had devoured all 487 pages in a single day. This isn’t a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. This is a tour de force of action, bravery, self-sacrifice, and the playing of the hand one is dealt.
Let’s start with the fact that this book isn’t set up as a fairy tale. Parallel worlds are introduced with the lead female character coming from a very present, very real Washington D.C. And I love that she isn’t flawless. She has cerebral palsy, but she is also brashly unapologetic, a little hot-headed, and has courage flowing from every pore. She isn’t the singing, chestnut-haired beauty you think of for a fairy tale, and that makes me love her even more.
Lillith is another story. We’ve all seen the typical enchantress. Place a curse and walk away. But this chick is a cut above, or maybe its below. She comes back to inflict torture over and over and over again. And she loves it. Devastatingly beautiful, she is also just plain devastating. The supposed last of her race with these magical powers, she embodies the stereotypical woman scorned persona.
And then there’s Rhen. He’s not your average prince. Yes, he’s good-looking. But his arrogance and flash have been eroded and his care for his people is evident from page one. His loyalty to his only remaining guard is beyond reproach and he isn’t above trying to end his own life if it means he frees everyone else.
This book is packed with fights, action, pain, but ultimately that fades into the background behind the bravery of these characters as they strive to regain a kingdom that has fallen into ruin and poverty. While lessons of kindness and self-sacrifice are woven throughout, the book doesn’t come across as preachy in the slightest. The language is simple to read and there isn’t any fantasy jargon or difficult to follow abilities or settings.
Overall, this is a fantastic read for anyone looking for a fast-paced, thrill-chasing novel that absolutely does not disappoint in any manner.
Profanity/Language: 5 religious exclamations, 15 mild obscenities, 1 offensive hand gesture; 1 anatomical term.
Violence/Gore: Self-inflicted bloody cut to arm; five verbal threats of death or harm; multiple instances of magically induced severe pain or injuries; smashed glasses; house burnt to ground; head yanked back by hair; man hit with tire iron; room full of blood and gore; slap to face; dagger to leg; knives thrown; various minor cuts, scrapes, bruises; arm wrenched behind back; recall of multiple suicide attempts; man jumps off wall to commit suicide; numerous instances of extremely graphic, bloody fights and battles that including death, decapitation, copious amounts of blood and gore (very graphic imagery).
Sex/Nudity: Reference to “having women”, male on male kiss; reference to sex; two hugs, two instances of holding hands; kiss to hand; three kisses; two caresses of face; hand to man’s bare chest; man and woman sleep in same bed.
Mature Subject Matter:
War, serious illness, death of family member, suicide, abandonment, gambling, loan-sharking, terminal illness, kidnapping.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Drinking of wine.