A retelling of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, told from the Beast’s perspective.
The story opens as the Beast contemplates whether Belle—recently made a prisoner in his castle—will ever come to love him. The timeline then moves backward to the days when the Beast was a human prince, and so begins a story that is predictable—when it isn’t entirely ridiculous—and filled with characters as flat as the pages they’re written on. As a human prince, the Beast spurns the love of Circe, who turn out to be the younger sister of the “odd sisters,” witches whose behavior is so nonsensical it’s a wonder they stop cackling long enough to curse him. Though the pre-Beast Prince certainly deserves his curse, whether any actual human being could contain the degree of vanity, selfishness and conceit the Prince exhibits is questionable. One interesting curveball comes in the presentation of the Prince and Gaston (the vain sportsman romantically interested in Belle) as childhood best friends. However, the blandness of the characters negates anything interesting that might have sprung from this twist, which is not nearly enough to save the story as a whole.
With clunky writing, an uninspired plot and unbelievably one-dimensional characters (including villains so absurd no one would fear them), this spinoff effort is disappointing at best. (Fantasy. 12-18)