BEAST by Donna Jo Napoli
Kirkus Star

BEAST

by & illustrated by
Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The writer who so intensely re-imagined Rapunzel in Zel (1996) and the Sirens in Sirena (1998) provides a sensual and brilliant imagining of the backstory of the Beast in this exotic tale. Orasmyn is a 17-year-old Persian prince, beloved of his parents, secure, even self-satisfied, with his studies and his rose gardens. But he makes a fatal error in judgment and angers a pari, a fairy, who curses him to take the form of a lion, to be freed only if a woman loves him. Orasmyn’s awakening to his new form is both terrible and funny, but the danger is real—his father has called a lion hunt and the prince must flee the world he knows. First he travels to India, learning his new life while trying to retain his humanity in prayer and in language. When he realizes (“I am Lion,” he repeats) that no pride will accept him, he travels to France, hides himself in an abandoned castle, and sketches his demands in the dirt when Belle’s father steals the rose. How he prepares the castle for her, how they reach first a truce, then understanding, and then devotion, is built up with a rich accretion of concrete detail, sound and scents described precisely. There are few metaphors for adolescence, and for the mastery of desire by the self, as deep as that of the Beast, and Napoli rings dark changes on those with the sure hand of a sorceress. Compelling, relentless, erotic. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-689-83589-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2000




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