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.
There is nothing romantic about this book. There is nothing inspiring about this book. There is nothing original about this book. There just isn’t much I found to like about Of Beast and Beauty.
I’ve read a number of reviews online and my opinion seems to be in the minority. So if you are one of the apparent many who enjoyed it I’m sorry I can’t agree with you. I don’t like giving bad reviews so let me just get into why this story didn’t sit well with me.
Of Beast and Beauty is a bit of a scifi-fantasy mashup. This genre is not my favorite but I thought the plot sounded interesting and I’m always excited to find another Beauty and the Beast retelling. Unfortunately this book was a complete wash for me.
I didn’t find it romantic in the least despite all the time the story spent building up the feelings between Gem and Isra. Honestly the two mostly seemed to feel lust for each other and that’s about it.
Not to mention Gem already has a son with another woman back at his tribe. You would think something that important would serve some purpose in the story but no. Gem’s child and the mother both die in front of him later in the book without ever getting any more representation in the story. No character development, no glimpse into their lives, no interaction with other characters. It’s like their entire existence was strictly to cause Gem pain.
Romance aside I also found the world too typical. The upper crust hold all the power and resources. The lower classes are at their cruel mercy. The ruling council wants to keep it that way. Blah blah blah….
In truth it’s not such a bad world setup and I’ve liked plenty of books with identical setups. But without characters I enjoyed reading about or a swoon worthy romance the lack of original world building felt burdensome.
One silver lining here is the nature of the curse placed on the planet and how it came about. That is one point of the story I did find interesting, albeit complicated. The ending wasn’t altogether bad either. Neither of theses points make up for the whole though.