Title: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge
Author: Lisa Jensen
Released: July 10 2017
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Kindle eBook
Goodreads Rating: 3.03 (of 271 ratings)
They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Candlewick Press and NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
Warning: Major spoilers and triggers ahead.
When I saw this book cover splashed across blogs prior to its release, my interest was piqued. I’m in love with fairy-tale retellings and a good book cover just sells me that much faster. After a positive review from a fellow blogger, I was down to provide my own ARC review … though sadly my review will not be as glowing as I anticipated.
Beast moves too quickly for my taste (though this was not a fatal flaw). Within a chapter our narrator, Lucie, is introduced to Chateau Beaumont and her new servant position — which does not seem like a lot, but considering this is to be her home for the entirety of the novel, I would have liked better pacing and more description to help build the mood.
To that, I find that novels that take on historical fiction or fantasy always require more in-depth prose work (in my opinion) because the author is building a world for the reader — opposed to contemporary, for example, where you know the scene already. The world in Beast was not fully constructed and when information was given, it was through information dumps (Lucie will drop everything the reader should know in several sentences) instead of through casual conversation, for example. This was especially prominent towards the end of the novel, when the reader is finally given the majority of the answers to the book’s mysteries … in about three pages, through a huge exposition from one of the characters. It was unnatural and awkward to read, not to mention hard to process all at once.
These two issues are not the ones that stand out to me, though. Beast may be a wonderful book (I do not think so, but will leave the door ajar on this), however, I started severely skimming the book at twenty percent for a major reason. At this point, I’m going to announce SPOILERS AHEAD because yes, this will be a spoiler, but also, this spoiler is the reason for my rating.
The book summary promised that Jean-Loup was massively shady and Beast would explore the Beast’s backstory. (Yes, original, I’m down.) But can I just say, in a complete understatement, that I was no prepared for how shady Jean-Loup was? His first actions were minor (snippy comment, rude looks) and then he rapes the main character.
The scene made me uncomfortable on so many levels. First of all because, as I previously stated, I did not see it coming at all. Lucie had a huge crush on Jean-Loup from the moment she saw him and acted like a middle-school girl around him. At many instances in the book Beast read like a middle-grade novel with Lucie’s simplified thoughts (“He was beautiful!”) and knee-jerk reactions. It was not the kind of writing that I thought would suddenly introduce a rape scene. Second of all, this book is pitched as a love story and our love interest is a rapist? As a reader how am I supposed to accept this???
This is why I went into major skim mode. I had to understand what could possibly happen in the book that could make Jean-Loup an acceptable character to love. Because no way no how could I attribute any good to him after what he did (repeatedly). And I only got my answer at 80% in the book, in an info-dump that did more to confuse me. Which just leaves me with so many questions. 1) Can I forgive Beast knowing the truth of his character? 2) How exactly does Rose play into all this, really though? 3) Why am I left asking myself this after most of all the action is finished?
I understand that Jensen gave a partial answer to the problem by giving Beast “amnesia” but … “I forget I’m a rapist” is not a solution.
So to conclude this review before I pose more questions I will not get answers to: I could not enjoy this book because I spent the majority believing its main character — who is supposed to be a love interest — was a rapist. I was uncomfortable reading this. I did finish this book, it was NOT a DNF, but it was a major skim read and I still feel like so many questions will never be answered even with a full reading.
One crown. I do not recommend. If Jensen is trying to pass a message, I am afraid I did not receive it.