ARC Review: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

Posted April 23, 2024 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 10 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review:  Beastly Beauty by Jennifer DonnellyBeastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Scholastic Press on May 7, 2024
Genres: YA Fantasy, YA Retelling
Pages: 336
Source: the publisher
Format: ARC
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From New York Times bestselling, award-winning author Jennifer Donnelly comes a revolutionary, gender-swapped retelling of Beauty and the Beast that will forever change how you think about beauty, power, and what it really means to follow your heart. 

What makes a girl “beastly?” Is it having too much ambition? Being too proud? Taking up too much space? Or is it just wanting something, anything , too badly? 

That’s the problem Arabella faces when she makes her debut in society. Her parents want her to be sweet and compliant so she can marry well, but try as she might, Arabella can’t extinguish the fire burning inside her — the source of her deepest wishes, her wildest dreams. 

When an attempt to suppress her emotions tragically backfires, a mysterious figure punishes Arabella with a curse, dooming her and everyone she cares about, trapping them in the castle. 

As the years pass, Arabella abandons hope. The curse is her fault — after all, there’s nothing more “beastly” than a girl who expresses her anger — and the only way to break it is to find a boy who loves her for her true a cruel task for a girl who’s been told she’s impossible to love. 

When a handsome thief named Beau makes his way into the castle, the captive servants are thrilled, convinced he is the one to break the curse. But Beau — spooked by the castle’s strange and forbidding ladies-in-waiting, and by the malevolent presence that stalks its corridors at night — only wants to escape. He learned long ago that love is only an illusion. 

If Beau and Arabella have any hope of breaking the curse, they must learn to trust their wounded hearts, and realize that the cruelest prisons of all are the ones we build for ourselves.

Every book I’ve read by this author has been a 5 star read for me. Especially her fairy tale retellings. So I was very excited for this one. This one definitely was good, had such a unique take on the Beauty and the Beast story. And in the end we did get the HEA that you want in a fairy tale. There was such a large cast of characters, again, thinking back to the movies, there were all the people in the castle so it makes sense.

Things were taken a different route, because of course this time the beast is who we think of as the beauty. And the townspeople aren’t changed into things around the house like in the movie cartoon, but the townspeople and family, etc. they are all there. And in this story, the reason it all gets cursed in a way is not because Arabella is as bad as you think the beast is for being cursed in his story, but for her own feelings and how she deals with them, or doesn’t.

I loved her back story though. It was such a great look at the way women had to deal with things in the past. And how being rich didn’t necessarily mean things were better. But there was even more to the story than just her needing to fall in love and have someone fall in love with her, but I won’t give that away, even if most readers will probably figure it out.

Along with the characters we think of, we had Arabella’s court made up of women with strange names, which were actually anagrams of feelings, a few that I had to look up several times with an online anagram maker to remember! I liked that aspect of the story as well. This one was not my favorite of the three I’ve read so far, I had a little issue with why she got cursed in this case, but after that, the story was good. So another great retelling from the author and I wonder if she will do anymore!

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10 responses to “ARC Review: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

    • Lisa Mandina

      This was a very unique take on the B&B story. Definitely recommend her books. And while they are YA in the sense that they don’t have sex really on the page or anything, they’re not YA in a sense of the moodiness and things that teens normally behave exactly.

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