I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Beauty Reborn by Elizabeth Lowham
Published by Shadow Mountain Pub on May 9, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy / General, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Sexual Abuse
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Fantasy and reality collide in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast about a young woman's heroic quest to save herself.
Yes, I went to the woods to save my father. But I also went hoping I would be eaten by the Beast. Because I didn't think anything else could save me.
Beauty's life is the stuff of fairy tales. The youngest in her family, Beauty isn't trying to catch Stephan's eye. He is the lord baron's heir, well above her family's modest station, but when he kisses her hand at a party, Beauty is swept away by his charm, his wit, and his passionate declarations of love.
Hearts can be untamable creatures, especially when touched by the fires of first love, and Beauty doesn't see the truth of Stephan's intentions until it is too late. Until he stops asking for Beauty's love--and simply takes it from her one night despite her refusal.
Beauty locks away the secret of what happened to her, and when her father emerges from the enchanted forest with a stolen rose in his hand and the tale of a vicious beast on his breath, Beauty seizes the chance to run as far from Stephan as possible.
She has some experience with beasts, after all. Certainly the one in the forest couldn't be any worse than the one she's already encountered.
Breaking the Beast's curse might be the key to discovering her own path to healing--and finding the courage to allow herself to feel reborn.
Content warning: References sexual abuse
Fairytale retellings are a sweet spot for me and they are hard to resist. Beauty Reborn by Elizabeth Lowham is a retelling that is emotional and dark considering what Beauty has endured before even meeting the Beast. I found the plot to be surprisingly fast-paced, especially considering that there aren’t many characters to drive it forward.
CW: Sexual assault
In this rendition of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty’s journey is explored. It’s less about the Beast and more about the healing that Beauty is seeking after her sexual assault. Instead of being forced to go to the castle for her father’s mistake, she actually runs away to it. There is an exploration of what beauty is, that goes deeper than just the traditional tale of a man who was transformed into a beast because he was a jerk to a fairy.
Beauty is also stuck on the fact that people consider whimsical. She talks about it a lot… But it’s because others feel threatened by her wit and intelligence. An important part of her self-discovery is accepting who she is and embracing her wit as a positive trait instead of one that others find off-putting. Her time spent with the Beast is good opportunity to explore this because he appreciates her personality.
Another concept explored in Beauty Reborn is Beauty’s post-assault frustration of finding men untrustworthy. Flashbacks are spread throughout the story that slowly build the backstory of what happened to Beauty and why she has made the decision to go to the beast’s castle. The tension between the present Beast and his seemingly compulsory need to ask her to marry him during each of their interactions and the distaste left after her rejection of her boyfriend’s proposal for marriage is a main thread in the narrative. The comparison/contrast between the two men is pretty straightforward and it’s evident who is the actual beast. The complexity of the story lays at Beauty’s journey to self-recovery.
What is your favorite fairy tale to read a retelling of?