Every once in a while, I read a book that I normally wouldn’t, either because it’s not a genre I’d usually look at or I’m backlogged and simply don’t have time for everything that comes my way. I found Beasts and Beauty on my fellow BCB writer’s desk, amidst a pile of to-be-read ARCs, and she offered it to me. When it comes to books, it seems we all bite off more than we can chew, so to speak! Anyway, that night I curled up on her couch and read the first tale – a powerful reworking of Red Riding Hood, where the most beautiful girl in the village is offered to the Big Bad Wolf as a yearly ritual sacrifice. It hooked me with the first paragraph.
I don’t know about you, but the classic fairy tales have always frustrated me. While the colorful imagery in the stories withstands the test of time, in my opinion, the messages certainly don’t. I wouldn’t use them to teach my children lessons in morality. The stereotypically beautiful yet helpless princess doesn’t interest my daughter, and I don’t consider a handsome prince a hero if his only skill is kissing. The stories are representative of a certain time and place in history, but they don’t necessarily resonate in the modern world. Of course, I can’t deny, they each have something compelling about them, some kernel of interest that lingers. Soman Chainani’s vision for each story keeps the magical essence of the original but delivers an extraordinary upgrade. His lyrical writing style combined with a vivid imagination makes Beasts and Beauty a compelling, layered, and thought-provoking read. Each tale is a stunning little gem that will linger in your mind long after you turn the last page.