What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast??
This is the premise of a delightful twist on the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. Just like in the animated movie, a beautiful book-loving girl offers herself up as prisoner to a horrible beast, who is master of an enchanted castle. But in this version, Belle quickly learns of the enchantress’ curse and discovers that it was cast by her own mother, magically forgotten by her family and community. Together, logical Belle and the earnest Beast piece together how they are connected and look for a way to break the curse. Much of the dialogue from the Disney movie is used, but there are interesting deviations and insightful additions that really add to the characters.
Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, we learn the enchantress’ backstory. She fell in love with the inventor Maurice and they married and had a daughter. But the tiny kingdom where they live, once so welcoming to all magical creatures, begins to grow distrustful. Encouraged by selfish and close-minded rulers, the non-magic townsfolk start persecuting those who are in any way “enchanted.” The enchantress must leave to protect herself and her family, but she wants to find out if the young prince is different from his cold-hearted parents.
I liked the way this story provides more background and motivation for some of the actions of the Disney characters. It also raises some intriguing questions: Was the enchantress justified in cursing the young prince? How did the servants feel about being transformed along with their master? Can provincial peasants find a place for magic in their lives? I’m a huge fan of well-written “fractured fairy tales,” and this book’s rich language and lively descriptions kept me turning the pages from beginning to the end!
Rated: Mild. 1-2 mild swears and 1 stronger swear word. No sexual content. A couple fight scenes where blood is shed and a villain gets violently killed, but nothing graphic.