My New Favorite Beauty and the Beast Re-Telling!
I've found my favorite Beauty and the Beast re-telling to date and it is A Curse So Dark and Lonely! This book has a little bit of everything all woven together in a fantastic take on the original tale.
Harper (the Beauty) lives in the modern world and is dealing with a lot of family issues when, out of the blue, she ends up in this fantasy land with a guardsman (Grey) and prince (Rhen, the "Beast"). First off, I love that this is a mashing of worlds! I don't see a lot of that anymore and I liked that Harper held true to her modern self while also trying to fit into a realm entirely unlike her own. It added another element to the story, while also not falling into info dump territory.
And time doesn't stop in the modern world while Harper is away. Her family is still in danger and she's stuck in a foreign land. The stakes are life-or-death. Immediately, I understand her motivations. She was a flawed character in a good way. Between her internal conflicts while growing closer to Rhen and having to remember her family's situation in a world she couldn't reach, and the external conflicts of navigating the kingdom of Emberfall, she had a lot of decisions to make and they weren't always the right ones. Harper is stubborn, headstrong, and passionate about what she believes in. I also loved that she has cerebral palsy but it wasn't written as a means to define her. It was a part of her as much as anything else and it made her stronger.
In this version of the B&tB tale, the beast's identity is a mystery to Harper but she knows fairly early on that Rhen is cursed in some way, that she has to fall in love with him. I loved that it wasn't a secret (at least not all of it) because the story shifted from a romance to a fantasy WITH romance. It made a huge impact on the plot. The curse remained at the forefront but the romance fell back in lieu of Harper and Rhen working together to go beyond the curse and accomplish something more in his kingdom.
As for Rhen, I liked but I didn't love his character. He's a passive person at first. Harper encourages him to take charge and do something rather than let things happen but I wasn't swooning over him.
I reserved that for Grey. The loyal guard. The trusted friend. The one willing to work with Harper as she was rather than expect her to instantly change herself because she gets kidnapped and taken away from her family. Although I knew who Harper would end up with because it's the nature of re-tellings (at least for the first book), I have hope that things change in the series because I SO ship Harper and Grey.
The book slowly builds the action and character relationships up to the point that I couldn't guess what would happen next. It was glorious! And I'm amazed I didn't even pick up on the big twist at the end, which makes it that much harder to wait for the sequel!
This isn't a re-telling you want to miss out on. I highly recommend grabbing a copy so we can wait in agony for the sequel!