I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are 100% my own.
Sixteen year old Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.
When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.
A classic fairy tale with a new twist, the Beauty and the Beast saga begins with Depravity.
Note: Intended for mature readers due to sexual situations, violence (attempted rape), and moderate language.
We meet Benella. All she cares about is making sure that her family has food in their bellies and surviving the village boys. Things don’t tend to go her way when two of the boys hound her and force her into the nearby estate, that just so happens to be guarded by a vicious and unforgiving beast. So, Benella is prepared for the end, and was surprised when she’s shown mercy by that beast.
There are some really amazing characters in this story. First there’s Benella herself. She’s pretty awesome. Doesn’t let much fluff her feathers, is willing to get dirty, and has no idea of her beauty and worth. There’s her father, Bernard, who is gentle and kind and the poster child of unconditional love. The Whispering Sisters are also really wonderful characters, teaching Benella things that she needs to know in order for her to do what needs to be done. But along with these amazing characters are those that I can’t stand. Benella’s sisters, Bryn and Blye, are the first that come to mind. The smith’s boys Tennen and Splane, her tormentors. And the only character I’m on the fence about is “the beast”. He has his moments where, I’m like “YAY! He’s awesome!” and others where I’m like “BOO!!! I’mma stab him!”
I love this particular Fairy Tale, and this re-imagining of the Beauty and the Beast story is really good. It’s still staying pretty close to the Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont‘s version of the story. (Thus far.)
There were moments where I would laugh outright. (The beasts temper tantrum at dinner one night.) Or I would be upset (the wood nymphs as well as Bryn and Blye’s greedy nature). Moments when I was flat squicked out (Sara and the baker). All in all though, this was a delightful and quick read. I cannot wait to read the second part of this book.
Ms. Haag has taken a very well-known story, one that even Disney took on and has made one of their iconic movies, and turned it into something wholly and completely her own. Her ability to create the atmosphere and world around such complex and complete characters astounds me. And so far, I’ve yet to be disappointed in anything she’s ever put out. So the question is, would I recommend this story? YES! OH LAWDY YES! BUT, that being said, I would make sure people knew this story is NOT the childhood story that we remember and love. THIS story has more….adult themes to it and doesn’t shy from those themes. They’re not hidden behind closed doors. So, for all adults who wanted an adult retelling of their favorite childhood stories. This is definitely for you.
About the Author
MJ Haag is the pen name for Melissa Haag, a multi-published author of three series. As MJ Haag she writes adult paranormal/fantasy romance. The Beastly Tales starts with Depravity, publishing June 2015. There are 2 more books in this series. Deceit publishes July 2015 and Devastation in August 2015.
As Melissa Haag she’s the bestselling author of the YA paranormal romance Judgement of the Six series and the Judgement of the Six Companion Series. Check out her YA books at http://amazon.com/author/melissahaag
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