Review Blog

Jan 31 2017

The Beast within: A tale of Beauty's prince by Serena Valentino

cover image

Disney Paper Rocket, 2016. ISBN 9781474840828
(Age: 9+) This novel presents a very different point of view to the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, Belle is a minor player and the central characters are the Prince and Gaston who begin as childhood best friends.
Valentino begins with the Beast reminiscing about the curse that places him in his enchanted castle, disfigured and alone. In his teenage years, he became vain and bigheaded, even with his best friend and hunting companion Gaston. The Prince's fiancee, beautiful Circe, is really the daughter of a pig farmer, therefore she is rejected. Circe is actually the youngest sister of three witches and she reaps her revenge by cursing him, and he must find true love by his twenty-first birthday or remain a beast forever.
The Prince searches for a bride selecting Princess Tulip Morningstar as the perfect candidate. Here the story deviates greatly from the original, he treats her cruelly, belittling her, happy that she does not read and thinks only of himself. Some of this is difficult to engage in, the more astute reader may be confronted by the Prince's actions, when he sends her off in disgrace with a promised dowry.
The cruel witches, Lucinda, Martha and Ruby, send Circe off to help poor Princess Tulip who had jumped off a cliff into the sea, deeply hurt by the Prince's rejection. Ursula the sea witch had taken Tulip's beauty and voice, leaving the poor princess to live a life of ugliness and muteness. The story switches back to Belle finally and her hurried escape from the castle. The evil witches summon wolves to chase her and 'scratch, bite her until she bleeds and kill her.' As the story ends, Valentino returns to the original plot, Gaston hunting the Beast and Belle's tender kiss breaking the curse.
This twisted fairy tale reads as fan fiction, overly dramatic and descriptive, dark and macabre, with the Prince's sexist comments and attitude distasteful.
Rhyllis Bignell

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