Review: The Beast Within
I really love Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, both the movie and the Broadway play. I am also looking forward to the live action starring Emma Watson as Belle. When I saw The Beast Within A Tale of Beauty’s Beast at Barnes and Noble, I just had to purchase it right away based on the description on the dust jacket alone.
The tale is as old as time; a cruel prince is transformed into a beast. A lovely maiden comes into this monster’s life. He is transformed by her compassion, and the love he feels for her in return. The two live happily ever after.
But any tale, especially one as storied as Beauty and the Beast’s has been told many different times, and in many different ways. No matter which version one hears, the nagging question remains; what was it that transformed the prince into the beast we are introduced to?
This is one version, pulled from many passed down through the ages. It’s a story of vanity and arrogance, of love and hatred, of beastliness, and, of course, of beauty.
Description From the dust jacket of The Beast Within A Tale of Beauty’s Prince by Serena Valentino
This story grabbed me at first because it started right after Belle met the Beast. However, when the story switched to The Beast’s past, I started to get a feeling of wrongness about the story that did not leave me as I continued to read. The story made me wonder many times the following: “Why am I still reading this?”
To me, the story read like a bad piece of fanfiction. Especially, with the introduction of characters like the “Odd Witches”, and the fact that Gaston and the prince knew each other and hung out together before the transformation. I kept thinking that if only these aspects were removed, then the story would have been much better.
In addition, there are many head scratching moments within the story that do not feel like they belong or contradict what is depicted in the main story. For instance, Maurice did not actually go to The Sanitarium in either the film or play versions, but this story states that he did. To me this is sloppy research, sloppy editing or both.
Fortunately, there are a few aspects of this story that made this a more tolerable read. The introduction of two new characters, Princess Tulip and the Entrantress who put the spell on the prince were a delight to read. Both of these characters are multi-dimensional and have fully realized personalities. I actually wanted to learn more about both of them. Also, the brief scenes with Cogsworth, Lumiere and Mrs Potts contained an interesting look into their lives and their interactions with The Prince before the transformation. If author would have stuck to these aspects of the story, I believe it would have been a much better read.
Overall, I cannot recommend this story, especially to any fellow Beauty and The Beast fan.