Book Review: The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross
I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.
I am the Beast.
He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.
Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . .
The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross
Published by February 12th 2019 by Berkley
Young Adult/ Retelling / Fairy Tales
Paperback, 416 pages
My rating: 4 of 5 Stars
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My thoughts on The Beast's Heart
Filled with romantic writing THE BEAST’S HEART delivers an enchanting retelling of Beauty and the Beast told from the beast’s perspective.
As a fan of fairy tales, I definitely wanted to try Leife Shallcross’ first novel which places the focus in this retelling on the Beast and his transformation. The story follows the traditional telling for the most part with the stolen rose and the daughter’s exchange for her father’s life.
The romance builds gently in the story with the Beast and Isabeau gaining trust in one another and an eventual friendship is built. Readers are treated to the innermost thoughts of the Beast. Through his perspective, we can sympathize with him and understand his desire to be loved and accepted.
No retelling of Beauty and the Beast would feel complete without a gorgeous setting, and THE BEAST’S HEART weaves in lovely details. From the blooming rose gardens and invisible servants to the château’s vast grounds and endless rooms, it creates a setting any fairy tale enthusiast would delight in.
Magical elements such as a silvered mirror that gives the Beast the gift of sight and a mysterious fairy who holds the answers to the dark curse on the Beast give the story a fantastical feel.
One thing I enjoyed while reading the story is the wonderful inside look into Isabeau’s family after she is gone and how they adapt to life without her.
“Dearest Isabeau, I am writing this to you because I feel one day, when you return to us, you will like to know how it was for us from the very beginning.”
When the Beast accidentally discovers a mirror that reveals Isabeau’s family in their home, it opens a whole new world to him, as well as the reader. It not only unveils the consequences of his action but it is also an intimate look into their lives and changes brought about by Isabeau ’s departure.
This was one of the strongest aspects of the story in my opinion. I enjoyed seeing all the positive changes and the realistic look into the everyday life of Isabeau’s family. While I was familiar with the overall happenings between the Beast and Isabeau, her family's life kept me intrigued and curious.
Marie learning to cook and taking pride in her accomplishments while Claude tackles the running of the household and their father gaining back his confidence—made such an interesting addition to the story.
My only complaint is that I felt Isabeau's character lacked some of the depth Shallcross beautifully crafted with her sisters. Sweet natured and accommodating, I wanted more spark from her, and more chemistry between her and the Beast.
In the End
THE BEAST’S HEART is a lovely addition to any fairy tale enthusiasts shelves. Lyrical and sweeping, this retelling told from the Beast’s point-of-view adds a thoughtful new twist to the classic and is definitely worth checking Leife Shallcross’s debut out.