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Beast Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689870051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689870057
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #444,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

In a narrative as glittering and richly detailed as a Persian miniature, Donna Jo Napoli interprets and amplifies the tale of Beauty and the Beast with startling originality. We've seen her keen psychological insights, surprising viewpoints, and clever twists on traditional fairy tales in previous novels: Hansel and Gretel in The Magic Circle, Rapunzel in Zel, Jack and the Beanstalk in Crazy Jack, and Rumpelstiltskin in Spinners. Here she uses the intriguing setting of ancient Persia in a glorious retelling of the now-Disneyfied favorite--a bold undertaking with which authors from Robin McKinley to Francesca Lia Block have also challenged themselves.

Napoli, however, brings a fresh slant to the story through the eyes of the Beast, Prince Orasmyn, who has been transformed by a curse into a lion--and can only be redeemed by the love of a woman. From this four-footed perspective, the young prince struggles to learn how to survive as a beast while retaining his humanity in devotion to Islamic moral principles. Fleeing his father's hunting park, he travels as an animal across Asia to France, where he at last finds an abandoned chateau. There, using paws and jaws, he plants a rose garden and prepares the castle for the woman he hopes will come to love him. Enter the merchant, the plucked rose, the brave Beauty, and the story wends to its traditional end--but this time with compassion and a new vividness. Into this sumptuous tapestry Napoli has woven a wealth of lore about Persian literature, the tenets of Islam, rose culture, animal behavior--even a leonine mating scene. This level of detail makes for a leisurely pace and a novel that may be more appropriate for older teens who are willing to savor the journey rather than the destination. After all, we all know how the story ends. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The bulk of this Beauty and the Beast novel is devoted to (the beast) Orasmyn's life as a lion, everything from his probing of the complexities of his fate and his Islamic prayers to his efforts to obtain food. PW called the book "more cerebral than romantic in tone, more laborious than lush in its execution." Ages 12-up. (June)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

For all information about Donna Jo Napoli (books, events, biography, awards, contact information), please go to

Customer Reviews

The story was engaging as it was authentic.
Donna Jo Napoli makes the heart-wrenching tale of a masked lover come vividly to life through the eyes of the beast.
Berry Clementine
The ending was great, not even rushed like some books I have read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book was a first for me, in the sense that I have read a number of renditions of Beauty & the Beast, but have just now read one from the Beast's point of view. Of course, like other Napoli works, it isn't the traditional European/Disney tale we know. Exotic in location and plot, this Beast is not a product of wicked magic, at least not as it normally comes. His sin, pride, is in line with other tellings of this story, but the theme is much more religious and therefore, unique.
As much as I loved both of Robin McKinley's Beauty & Beast novels ("Beauty" and "Rose Daughter"), I was glad to see the exploration of what makes up a beast: violence, hunger, killing. The bloodshed is handled well - nothing graphic or tasteless - but it is not avoided, and this Beast is definitely a carnivore.
Napoli's research is, like always, superb. She has no useless words. "Beast" is a fine successor to "Zel" and other Napoli works. Maybe it didn't strike into my heart as sharply as "Zel" did, but "Beast" has its own beauty.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jaydekitten on June 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
When I first settled down to read "Beast" I was intrigued by the Persian setting in Napoli's retelling of this classic tale. When Prince Orasmyn offends a faerie, he is cursed to forever roam the earth as a beast. That is, unless he can win the love of a woman. Fleeing his omened death and his fate, Orasmyn leaves his beloved country for India, and ulitmately settles in France.

I give Napoli credit, especially since she is working with material that is already familiar to her readers. Everybody knows that Prince Charming finds Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty awakens, Beast regains his human form. While "Beast" begins and ends strong, I found certain elements of the middle section to be almost disturbing. After Orasmyn flees his mother and father's palace, he encounters two female lionesses. Napoli describes as Orasmyn mates with the two females. Considering that Orasmyn is a lion himself, it's not so disturbing, but since he still thinks like a human and has human thoughts it's borderline bestiality. Furthermore, it's not essential to the plot and not entirely appropriate for a book aimed for twelve year olds. It remains there for shock value more than anything. Aside from my quip with that particular scene, the middle section of the book seriously lags in comparison to the beginning chapters and the chapters following his intorduction to Belle.

My only other issue with this book is something I have encountered in a few of Napoli's works. The ending to "Beast" seems especially rushed. It's as if the book is just moving along fine and then BAM! The End. It left me unsatisfied and frustrated. I mean, of course the reader knows how the story ends, but Napoli didn't make it her own.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Skimmimg through books at the library, I was intrigued by the spine design for "Beast." I started to read it. When I looked up again, after reading through the first six chapters without stopping, hours had gone by. I was DEFINITLEY going to take out this book! It was compelling all the time through. The ending was great, not even rushed like some books I have read.
The beast, in the book, turns into a lion. He is shunned by his hometown of India, and doesn't know where to go, or how to live. By one of his mother's books, he is guided to France where he meets the stunning and sympathetic beauty, and the curse is broken.
Everyone knows the story line of this novel. Still Napoli has redone the story in a greatly creative way. She shows the emotions of the beast as he goes from home to home, not fitting in with a lion pride, and finally residing in an old abandoned French castle. Napoli is one of the first authors who have written this story from the Beast's point of view. The whole time through, I was amazed by her awesome ability to write a great novel. She creates many interesting twists to the tale, such as the beast living in India, and does it in an astoundingly creative way.
I greatly enjoyed this book. It really deserves more than five stars! You HAVE to read it!
I would recommed this book to young adults, because some of the material is mature for younger readers. When younger readers get olsder though, they should really read this book. It was really one of my favorites! Donna Jo Napoli is really a GREAT storyteller!!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ashli Sharp on April 27, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this book after seeing it appear on the lists of countless reviewers. Unfortunately, I think they all over-praised it. The book is not bad, mind you, but I didn't feel it warranted such grand accolades.

The first part is heavy on the culture of Persia. A foreign word was used on nearly every page. Learning about other lands is just fine, but this author overdid it (for instance, I don't believe it necessary to include the Persian words for items discussed only once-save this mechanism for more important and relevant information). [The author's academic background in linguistics most likely accounts for the heavy-handed use of foreign language.]

When the prince is turned into a lion and eventually travels to France, the author still wants to educate the reader. However, I found it more easy to swallow here. Why? Because we learn while the character learns. It doesn't feel as force-fed as previously, and I actually enjoyed some of the knowledge I gleaned.

My final complaint has to do with the end of the book. I recognize that the story follows the prince/beast's point of view, but I was still surprised to find Belle didn't appear until nearly the last 25% of the book. I don't think enough time was spent on developing their relationship, and the story ends too abruptly to offer any idea as to how the couple will truly live together now that the secret is out. (For example, will they live in Persia or France?) I just found the end to be entirely dissatisfying.

I hesitate to leave such an unkind review, but I believe future readers have a right to know not only the good but the bad in books. When I hear only praise, it skews my perception going in, and perhaps that is why I was so unimpressed by "Beast.
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