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Of Beast and Beauty Hardcover – July 23, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up–Hundreds of years after humans landed on a distant planet, Smooth Skins live in protective domes that keep out the scaly skinned Desert People, whom they call Monstrous. Blind since childhood, 17-year-old Princess Isra makes clandestine nighttime visits to the dome's rose garden. Someday, as queen, she will have to shed her blood to water the roses and keep the city secure. To save their people from starvation, a Monstrous raiding party attempts to steal the roses and their magic. Isra demands that 19-year-old Gem be spared. She hopes that he can help her raise plants to stop the scaling skin that could doom her to banishment. Slowly Isra comes to see both literally and figuratively the deformities and mistreatment of the Banished inside the city and the injustices done to the Desert People outside. Gem realizes that Isra, too, is a prisoner, destined to marry Bo, whose powerful father manipulates events to make sure his son will rule the kingdom. Eventually Isra learns that the queens' bloodletting actually feeds an evil Dark Heart beneath the flowers. Only love between a Smooth Skin and a Monstrous can break an ancient curse. Isra, Gem, and Bo narrate chapters of this reimagining of the familiar tale. Isra and Gem reluctantly acknowledge their growing attraction that deepens into love. Bo, who might have emerged as a villain, instead questions the need for sacrifice and resists his father's demands. Explanations of complex history and legend slow the pace at times, but revelations and plot twists keep the action flowing and romance growing. Variations of conventions such as having a Monstrous attempt to steal roses and bring the dying princess to life are overshadowed by the final transformation of Isra, Gem, and their people into something entirely new, both Beast and Beauty. A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankatoα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal, August 2013:
"A satisfying read for fans of romantic fantasy."

Justine, August/September 2013:
"The romance in this book is as lush, wild and thorny as the magic roses that protect the doomed city of Yuan! This re-imagined version of classic Beauty and the Beast is all the more addicting because the two man characters are misfits who slowly develop their love through shared goals, secret whispers and intense chemistry."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385743203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385743204
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering). She writes YA fantasy romances and adult urban fantasy. Learn more at www.staceyjay.com.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lili's Reflections on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I think that writing a coherent review currently is impossible. It's been a really long time since a book made my heart speed up, my breathing shallow because I was so engrossed. It's been a really long time since I thought that a writer's writing style is really beautiful and went out of my way to tell others that. It's just been a while since a book managed to truly blow me away and make me love it so much. OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, the first book I've ever read by Stacey Jay, managed to do all that and more. I can already tell that this book will stick with me for a while.

The intricacies of this new world was fascinating. They easily engross you and hold you captive throughout the duration of the book--making it an incredibly quick and enjoyable read. It's set in a dying world where domed cities must make royal sacrifices every thirty years in order to ensure the continual thriving of their people. Isra, the blind future Queen of Yuan, is set to be the next sacrifice to allow her people to continue to live. The domes are necessary to cut the citizens off from the evils of the outside world and the disfigured race that lives in the desert. The Monstrous are beastly people with poisonous claws and they must be feared, but when they break into Yuan and one of them murders the King, everything spirals out of control. They leave a single Monstrous prisoner behind named Gem in order to ensure peace between the two races, but he is unwelcome by all except Isra who is strangely fascinated by her new prisoner and eventual friend. A lot of the amazing world-building was displayed through personal anecdotes and the telling of old legends from both races, and I found this to be a welcome, unique touch that kept my interest without having to info-dump.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Krystal Larson on November 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Stacey Jay has a magical ability to pull readers into the strange worlds she creates. Her
powerful, poetic writing caused me to lose myself for three hours as I devoured her book. Of Beast and Beauty is unlike her previous novels, Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed. Jay’s latest novel is a retelling of the classic story Beauty and the Beast that she has made her own.

Beast is a princess named Isra who must die to ensure her people will live. Blind and a “Smooth
Skin” that is afraid she is “Monsterous”, Isra is part of a curse she knows nothing about. Gem is Beauty, a man labeled “Monsterous” that lives in the desert, working against Isra to save his own dying people. Isra and Gem come from different worlds, but share an inner strength and perseverance. To save themselves and the people they love, the two will face an ancient evil.

Although Of Beast and Beauty was difficult to put down, the culmination of the plot was
unsatisfying. The plot flowed too easily and left me feeling disappointed; the book proceeded exactly as expected. I felt as though I knew how the book would progress as soon as I began reading. Still, falling into the world of Isra and Gem was enjoyable, and I would recommend the book to readers who have enjoyed Jay’s earlier novels or other retellings.

*Review copy provided for review, this in no way affects my review*
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Rinoa on April 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The writing was beautiful, and frankly, I kind of cautiously enjoyed the first half of the book, but there were so many things about this book that were SO problematic. A list for your enjoyment and perusal:

1. Here we have a lovely book which is supposed to have a quasi asian(?) setting (it's called Yuan and most of the names are Asian) but the protagonist is WHITE AS THE DRIVEN SNOW. Like okay in the end /MINOR SPOILER/ it is revealed that her mother came from New Persia, so she's biracial I guess but you would never know that from looking at her/END SPOILER/. She is pale and tall and pretty and the rest of the inhabitants are described as short and brown. AWESOME.

2. Gem and the Desert People are textbook noble savages. Like can we have a book with some kind of tribal society/"outsiders" without them being austerely beautiful morally righteous hunter gatherer warrior people who have gender parity and tell beautiful stories and understand the MAGIC of NATURE and the PERVERSION of the CITY and TRUE HONOR blah blah blah GREAT SPIRIT blah blah blah THE LAND blah blah blah. It's a caricature, and its offensive.

3. Isra (protagonist) thinks she is ugly because she is blind and can't see herself and she thinks she has scaly skin. /SPOILERS/Turns out her blindness is MAGICALLY HEALED!!!! heaven forbid a blind person NOT be healed in the course of your novel and yet still live a happy and full life. And then she discovers that she is BEAUTIFUL and not scaly at all but actually she has a milk allergy. IM NOT EVEN KIDDING./END SPOILERS

4. Can we plz talk about the fact that in the end /SPOILERS/everyone was magically changed to be like each other by the POWER of MAGIC and LOVE?? I wish I was making this up.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By My Friends Are Fiction on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Story:
Of Beast and Beauty is a incredibly creative, bold and entrancing retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast. Jay takes the classic elements and turns them on their head yet is able to keep the magic and fairy tale quality with a dash of science fiction.

The pacing was fast and as the story progressed I felt anxiety as I turned the pages, worried about the outcome and how Jay would wrap up her tale in the remaining pages. Not only was the story engaging the writing was eloquent and beautifully done. This book impacted me and I felt anger, love, fear...a mix of emotions leaving me easily wordless.

The Characters:
I have always been a fan of Beauty and the Beast. I never gave the story much thought but loved the idea of a grisly, frightening `beast' being so much more. Jay was able to capture that aspect but also give her `beauty' a depth I'm not sure has been achieved in other retellings.

Isra had a mountain of obstacles stacked against her and yet she was bold and brave. Though she is blind she didn't let that stop her from finding ways to achieve the outcomes she desired. I also thought it was incredibly interesting to follow a blind main character since we didn't get descriptions in the normal way. She couldn't see the secondary characters so we learned about their characteristics slowly and I loved seeing them form in my mind as I read.

Jay writes from different character's view points, Isra, Bo and Gem, giving us a well rounded look at the story. Gem had a wonderful voice and I really enjoyed seeing his internal battle play out. I felt that Jay did an excellent job giving each of her characters a unique presence and I never felt confused on who's view I was reading.
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