Beauty and the Beast are back, along with the familiar cast of characters from Disney’s films.
This movie tie-in begins not long after Belle’s visit to the forbidden West Wing and the Beast’s subsequent, apologetic gift of the castle’s library, where Belle finds a book that captivates her as no other book has before. The enchanted book Belle loves, Nevermore, allows her to escape the castle and her imprisonment, but it is not all that it seems, and Belle finds herself the unwitting pawn in a game between Love and Death. While in Nevermore, Belle wishes to study at university, an unlikely aspiration in the book’s fictional preindustrial time frame, which may jar readers attuned to such details out of Donnelly’s fantasy world. Within that limitation, this book still works for its audience. Readers will enjoy revisiting this magical world, where they can delve deeper into Belle and the Beast’s relationship, and the adventurous Belle is a likable companion for these enchanted travels in Nevermore. Fans will also be cheered by the funny, heartwarming banter among the castle’s enchanted servants. Like Belle, many readers may wish to escape their imperfect lives, and they might find bracing Belle’s discovery that real life is to be preferred, for all of the chaos and pain that it brings.
Readers who love Beauty and the Beast will greatly enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with their story. (Fantasy. 10-14)