With clunky writing, an uninspired plot and unbelievably one-dimensional characters (including villains so absurd no one...

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THE BEAST WITHIN

A TALE OF BEAUTY'S PRINCE

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)

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5912-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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