{Review Redux/Giveaway} OF BEAST AND BEAUTY by Stacey Jay

Check out the rest of the blogs taking part in
OF BEAST AND BEAUTY's Rockstar Book Tour!

(Albeit a day late...)

Check out today's fabulous interview with author Stacey Jay!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:
IN THE BEGINNING was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret.  The secret was as old as the cracked cobblestone streets of Yuan, as peculiar as the roses that bloom eternally within the domed city's walls, as poisonous as forgotten history and the stories told in its place. 

By the time the girl was born, the secret was all but lost.  The stories had become scripture, and only the very brave--or very mad--dared to doubt them.  The girl was raised on the stories, and never questioned their truth, until the day her mother took her walking beyond the city walls 

In the wilds outside, a voice as fathomless as the ocean spoke to her of a time before the domed cities, before wholes became halves and bargains were made in blood.  It told of a terrible choice and even more terrible consequences.  It begged her to listen, to live...
(Page 10, US e-ARC edition;
changes may occur before the final version releases)

This review first appeared at 
A Backwards Story on 
March 30, 2013.

I've been looking forward to OF BEAST AND BEAUTY since before it was ever even listed on GoodReads.  I heard author Stacey Jay talking about it on Twitter and made a habit of checking Goodreads every so often until the book appeared and became real.  I honestly wasn't sure what to expect from the book before picking it up.  Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, so there's a lot to live up to.  Plus, pretty as the cover was, I wasn't enamored with JULIET IMMORTAL.  But I was anxious to give Jay another try, and I'm glad I did.  When I first began reading OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, it moved slowly and I wasn't sure I would get into it, but by the end, I was completely hooked and I'm so glad I stuck with it.

It's really hard to talk about a lot of plot elements without giving out spoilers since so much is reveal throughout the story.  There's also a lot of backstory to take in, which is perhaps why I was overwhelmed early on.  To keep it short, readers will never quite know who is Beauty and who is Beast, and Jay does this on purpose.  In today's interview with Jay, she mentions that she purposely flipped the roles and made Beauty male and Beast female, but as you read, you'll realize that both characters have traits of both roles.  Both Isra and Gem were raised believing that one another's world and ways was wrong, giving the story a Romeo and Juliet-esque starcrossed-lovers edge.  Isra is a Smooth Skin living comfortably in the city of Yuan while Gem's people live outside Yuan in the dying desert and are considered monstrous.

In an interesting twist, Princess Isra has been blind ever since a fire that occurred the night her mother died when she was a small child.  (Her blindness is a true disability, too.  She's learned to live with it and survive within her means, which I really appreciated as a reader.)  She's been locked away in her tower ever since, told that she's ugly and not fit for company.  Not only that, she's grown up knowing that one day, she'll commit the ultimate sacrifice and die for her people in order to secure the city's health and vitality.  Isra hates being locked up and often escapes out her tower at night.  One night, she encounters Gem, who has crept into Yuan to steal the roses said to have magical healing properties in order to save his people from dying.  He's caught and forced into captivity as Isra's prisoner.  Isra and Gem grow and change so much in one another's presence, and while this is a tale of Beauty and the Beast, it's also something wholly original I haven't seen before in the fairy tale genre.  By the end of the novel, I was really rooting for things to work out despite all the devastation that was building.

I was surprised and pleased with how close the core to OF BEAST AND BEAUTY follows the original fairy tale considering the fact that so much has changed and become new again.  And the ending....I can't talk about it without spoiling the book, but it went beyond what I was expecting.  I closed this book not quite ready to pick up something new to read because I was still immersed in Jay's world, and I wouldn't have said that when I first started reading the book.  There are definitely both pros and cons to the story, but ultimately I was engrossed in a satisfying way as I read this one.

OF BEAST AND BEAUTY is definitely darker than most fairy tale retellings out there, and I would recommend it for older teens due to a few mature elements, but if you love Beauty and the Beast, you'll want to snag OF BEAST AND BEAUTY.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I don't know if you noticed it or not, but there is a brand-new cover for OF BEAST AND BEAUTY!

It went from:


I like it BETTER now.  I love the addition of the blue and city.  The font for the title/author now adds a sci-fi flavor, which works because the book takes place on a planet that isn't Earth.

This cover actually makes sense.  It's not dark just for the sake of being dark.  It retains the elements of the first cover while making it more fairy tale-like.

The rose really is more dangerous than it appears to be, and it wants blood, Isra's blood...  The model is still wearing the black dress to show a period of mourning, too (though if I recall correctly, the color is actually green in the book, but WE look at black and see mourning so, you know, it works) 

The new cover combines elements perfectly and definitely works for me!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Stacey Jay
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers / Random House

In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret... 

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds. 

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. 

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.


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