A rich, Russian-influenced retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Bored by her comfortable life in town, Yeva (Beauty) longs for the woods. But when her merchant father loses their fortune and retreats to the wilderness with Yeva and her older sisters, Lena (Light) and Asenka (Grace), Yeva must remember her woodcraft in order to protect her family. Preferring solitude to her persistent suitor, Solmir, and a brewing love triangle—Asenka is drawn to Solmir—Yeva hunts, first for game, then for the Beast. Blaming the Beast for her father’s absence, Yeva becomes his captive, then his would-be assassin—trained to kill for him but also hoping to kill him—yet struggles to reconcile his violence and humanity. Building upon a familiar tale, Spooner creates a detailed world populated by complex characters, with medieval household mundanities and retellings of Russian folk tales anchoring the later fantastic elements. No Disney heroine, white, red-haired Yeva is also—appreciably—not an instantly lethal, superpowered heroine, although she is single-mindedly bent first on survival, then on revenge. Love blooms slowly, but this is an old-fashioned romance reminiscent of Robin McKinley’s and Patricia McKillip’s novels, concerned with the power of stories.
An elegant, classic, and vivid fairy tale. (Fantasy. 12 & up)