A Twisted Tale #3. Author: Liz Braswell.
What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?
Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.
But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.
The prose was fairly mediocre, but I really liked the changes the author made to the Beauty and the Beast story. It’s not an easy one to pull off as a good retelling; weird enough that outside of the fairy-tale context often doesn’t work at all. But the background she built up not only makes sense without being either too far from the original or too cliche, and the blame is distributed around in a somewhat-complicated tangle that is much more true-to-life than a straight forward explanation of who’s fault everything is. More, the Beast is rather excellently characterized. He was a spoiled and selfish, but not inherently bad, child turned into a monster – his quick fits of temper and unreasonableness make perfect sense, but for once they’re balanced by apology and kindness to such an extent that I actually liked him.
Sexual Content: Man gives a woman a metal rose, which she “pinned to the bodice of her dress – which, honestly, was pulled down almost indecently by its weight.” A kiss. Journal entry: “Clarissa’s a sweet one, but not over blessed in the department of fidelity. Sadly, not marriage material, though pleasant enough to look upon.”
Language: 6 d***, 1 derogatory term.
Violence: Character turns a man’s nose into a pig snout (it’s implied that she turns it back later.) Two men try to drag a boy off before being stopped. Character fights off a wolf pack, killing at least one and being wounded himself. There are multiple ‘mysterious disappearances’ which are certainly murder. Character knocks a man unconscious. Character kills a man with an ax from behind. One character has been tortured – the man “injected her blood with iron, put lode stones in her belly, cut her head open” trying to remove her magic. There are multiple other characters in the same building, which have also been tortured, although there’s no detail for them.