The Beast’s Heart
By Leife Shallcross
A Novel of Beauty and the Beast
Author’s Website: leifeshallcross(.)com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro
A luxuriously magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in seventeenth-century France–and told from the point of view of the Beast himself.
I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.
I am the Beast.
He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.
Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . . (Goodreads)
The Beast’s Heart is a take of the classic fairytale told from the Beast’s perspective, where the reader learns how he became a monster and how little by little he lost his humanity and the beast took over him, his home, the woods, and scared everyone away, leaving him lonely for years until a man appeared in his lands.
As we know, the gentleman’s daughter takes his place after he betrayed the Beast’s hospitality by taking a rose from his garden. The daughter, Isabeau, must spend a year with the Beast to pay off her father’s wrongdoing. The Beast knows how much Isabeau’s loss will affect her family and he sends jewels, dresses and more to her family in exchange for her, thinking that will ease their pain. To Isabeau, the Beast gifts her everything she could ever wish for in hopes that she will give him her friendship and eventually marry him, but Isabeau does not think the same.
I really loved this book, it had the romance of a Jane Austen story and a touch of fantasy, including several elements that made me like the plot. One of them was Isabeau’s sisters, which are very different compared to the original story. They are given a reason as to why they treated Isabeau the way they did and once she is gone the sisters become less dependent of their younger sister and very quickly make up their minds about how to go about their lives and what needs to be done in order to survive without her, away from the city they knew and their past luxurious life style. I was actually very happy and satisfied as to how their lives turned out to be and how they saw their flaws and fixed them.
The father does have a harder time coming to terms that his youngest daughter is gone and once she returns he is very stubborn to understand why she wants to go back, but if it weren’t for the Beast’s looking mirror, things would have been different for Isabeau and her family.
Then there’s Isabeau and her life at the Beast’s château. At first, she feels like anyone would, in a place that is not your home, away from your family and with a Beast. Slowly but surely, Isabeau gets used to life with the Beast and does her best to enjoy what is offered to her like music, books, food and paintings. When the Beast begins to have feelings for her, he asks her to marry him but she rejects his proposal preferring his friendship instead. Isabeau’s health begins to decline due to sleepless nights, which worries the Beast and somehow brings them closer.
“Anyone who has ever fallen in love will know that when the realization strikes―that you love that person above all others and want to spend all the rest of your days by their side―this is accompanied by an urge to run and shout it from the mountaintops.”
I was impressed by Isabeau’s feelings towards her sisters once she had learned how they had changed in her absence. She felt not needed and out of place, but Isabeau leaving actually helped her sisters recover and see life differently.
At the end, I was very happy with how things turned out for everyone, not just the Beast and Isabeau. I do recommend that you read the book to find out how those last chapters unfold. Isabeau realizing that she loves the Beast was really well written and the Beast last words beautiful.
As a long time fan of the Beauty and the Beast story, I could have not picked a better book such as The Beast’s Heart to tell the story of a lonely Beast and his longing for company.