Monday, August 21, 2017

Elizabeth Darcy - The Eye of the Beholder

Born to power, the world was my playground. My every wish was a kingdom’s command, my displeasure every man’s worst fear. But then, at the whim of a merciless enchantress, all was stolen from me. My once lavish castle became my dungeon. My once-handsome form became that of a beast. There is no hope of release from the prison of my own body, for the only way to break this curse is to earn the love of another. I, who have never felt a drop of compassion, must hope to inspire devotion. I, who am hideous beyond compare, must hope to inspire passion. After hundreds of years, I have come to accept the truth: I will never know love. There is no escape for me.
Born to two loving parents and a happy home, I was grateful for my good fortune. Though I was plain and prone to living in my head, forced to live in the shadow of my beautiful sisters, I had everything my heart desired. Then tragedy struck, and I lost my mother and my home. Papa was all I had left in the world, and I was utterly devoted to him. When his thoughtful gesture earned him the wrath of a horrible monster, I sacrificed myself for the sake of the one person I love. Now I am a prisoner in a decaying castle with only a terrifying beast for companionship. But I am determined not to give in to the beast’s wrath, to prove to him that he can never truly ensnare me.

Comment: I added this book to my TBR because I really like the Beauty and the Beast fairytale and I think this is probably my favorite one (especially the Disney edition).
I'm always curious to see how authors use the details that make this story a special one and transform it to something new but still visible enough when comparing to the plot so many readers love.

In this new adaptation, the Beast is likewise transformed because of his poor attitude and lack of compassion and mercy as the prince of a kingdom. Instead of changing the servants, the curse which swaps the cast and the grounds makes them different but doesn't switch their shape. The Beast knows it won't be easy to love and be loved so when the time is almost done, suddenly a man appears in the hidden castle to take a rose and the happenings start from then on until the incoming of Mirabelle, the youngest daughter of the unaware man.
But can the curse be broken or will the two of them not find anything in common?

This book begun quite well for me. The setting up was the recognizable premise of the fairytale everyone loves and even the initial pages told from the prince's perspective were engaging. The setting up was emotional as well, we got to see the prince as someone very selfish and when he transforms into the Beast, it was expected his feelings wouldn't change immediately but I was looking for to see him become the good person he was/is supposed to be inside.

The second chapter is told from Mirabelle's POV, the youngest daughter of a man who lost his fortune when his wife died. Now he and his three daughters must live in need but there's still some money. Two daughters only want to find rich husbands, but Mirabelle is worried about her father and helps as much as possible at home. We obviously get the idea Mira is a special person and her humility and caring will be the key to help the Beast.

Based on the two first chapters and our knowledge of the fairytale, this had all the necessary ingredients to be a great and fascinating story but I feel these two chapters were like a sort of prelude to set up the real plot which was not as vibrant as I hoped it would. I think it was a bit disappointing when the story followed the same introspective structure of the first two chapters but not in such an engaging way. The story is told from Mira0's POV e then the Beast's in alternate chapters. This is interesting, no doubt, but I must say, despite some good enough scenes and development here and there, most of the story was...well, boring at times.
I think it was very interesting to understand what each one was feeling and why they would behave in a certain way but the story dragged.

Now that I've read it, I think it missed dialogue and more interactions between the main characters that wouldn't only focus on their feelings. I think there was an almost too obvious focus on what they were thinking, feeling, deciding to process. This is interesting yes, and to someone thinking quite quick but to read about it can make it a bit boring because it took too long. The characters didn't interact in enough diverse ways to make their relationship feel fuller and necessary beyond ending a curse.

As for the characters themselves, they changed for better but I guess the Beast's change was the strongest for obvious reasons. Mira seemed more like the convenient help and not much a woman the prince could love and desire forever. I guess the story could be a bit more intense in some areas.
The end had its sweet moments but I don't think it completely made for the lack of "energy" in most of the book. I guess I hoped for a more romantic story, maybe a bit sexier too now that I'm thinking of it.
Still, for an adaptation it wasn't too bad but I kind of imagined it would go one step forward when it comes to the relationship's intimacies (scenes with them being friends and interacting instead of just talking to themselves as a monologue what they were thinking) and that might turn this into a richer story.
Grade: 5/10

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