Nov 9, 2018

Review--The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross

A luxuriously magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in seventeenth-century France--and told from the point of view of the Beast himself.

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 . . .

I went into The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross with no expectations and no idea of exactly what kind of Beauty and the Beast story I was getting, other than it would be from the Beast’s point of view and I feel like that was the best course of action for me! I quickly discovered that this still reads very much like a fairy tale. There’s no different kind of setting, there’s still magic and curses. A lot of the story still remains true to the original, with a few tweaks here and there, and some of those tweaks I was glad for!

The story is told solely from the Beast’s point of view and when it starts we basically get a few details on how he came to be a beast. Not much, but since we pretty much know why he’s a beast the details aren’t necessary just yet. We see him struggle with being an animal with the mind of a human and how he gradually finds himself back in his castle that he once lived in. There are no animated objects to serve him, but a set of invisible servants, much like in the original story.

And it’s really not long at all before our Beauty comes onto the scene. Isabeau is the youngest daughter of the traveler who came to stay in his castle and who dared to take a rose for her after the Beast had shown him kindness and gifted him with jewels, food, and clothes. And Isabeau agrees to his demands to stay with him for a year due to her father’s trespass.

One of the things that surprised me in their differences was that Isabeau only had two older sisters. I think in the original it was six brothers and sisters and she was the youngest and naturally, her sisters weren’t so kind. I can’t remember about the brothers as in other shortened versions, she just had two cold-hearted sisters. In this tale, her sisters are actually kind and considerate. I thought this was a nice spin! Too many times fairy tales have evil siblings, so I was happy that Leife decided to mix things up.

In this version, the Beast still has a magic mirror, one that basically lets him check in on Isabeau’s family. I can’t really decide why we had to see this though. The times that the Beast was watching the mirror were the times that Isabeau wanted to be alone. We later learn she’s being plagued with strange dreams and she just doesn’t want any kind of company. So the Beast is on his own and since he’s our storyteller, he had to be doing something!

This is not a fast paced story at all. So if pacing can be an issue for you, you might need to rethink picking this one up. Like most fairy tales—in their original form—they are drawn out. They are short stories, so since this is a novel we get more embellishments and added story fodder, but it is all at a slow pace. Since it was a Beauty and the Beast tale though, I never found myself perturbed by this. I love Beauty and the Beast stories and since this one was so like its original I found myself enchanted with the tale as it continued to progress.

I guess in some ways, I wasn’t 100% sure why the Beast was cursed in this version. Even after he reveals why. It seemed like it wasn’t made perfectly clear. He had a rotten father and a grandmother who loved him dearly and after their deaths, I guess he didn’t live up to his grandmother’s idea of him and BAM! Cursed by a fairy. Again, it was strange and a bit confusing, but I guess in the end it really didn’t matter.

The ending, was as predicted, sweet and happy! As most fairy tales tend to be! Again, I liked how it deviated from a certain aspect of the original story that always gave me the heebie jeebies but again I’ll relate that to the time and place of the original story! This one didn’t have all that and actually made it less confusing too—for the original one really sent me through a trip on some of the details! Lol.

This story is definitely for the true Beauty and the Beast fans though! Again, not the Disney movie, but the original fairy tale. For The Beast’s Heart is very much a fairy tale at its core and it’s one no Beauty and the Beast fan should be without!

Overall Rating 4/5 stars



  1. Have you read Robin McKinley’s Beauty? It, too, had kind and decent older sisters. Beauty’s actually name was Honor, Beauty her nickname because as a child she had said, “Honor! Huh! I’d rather be Beauty!” The Beast had been cursed for reasons not really his fault. To be honest, I preferred it to this one, even though the author of this is a fellow Aussie! It was gentler and funny.

  2. Oh man, I've been wanting to read this so bad! I adore Beauty and the Beast (as you know)! The pacing is concerning, but I'd push through for this retelling!


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