The Beast Within

“Tale as old as time. Song as old as rhyme.”

I cannot even begin to count how many times I have watched Disney’s live action “Beauty and the Beast” with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, and Luke Evans as the best Gaston EVER. When I started The Beast Within, I expected it to be a great deal like the movie. After all, how different could it really be?

Very different!! It was as though they were two different stories entirely. The Beast Within begins with Belle already a prisoner in the castle. The Beast is in the rose garden contemplating the idea of loving someone so much that he would sacrifice his own life for that person, the way Belle did for her father. It is a concept he just cannot grasp.

Some surprising guests visit the Beast while he is in the rose garden. They taunt him and remind him that no one will ever love him. After all, he is a monster – inside and out. Belle confirms what the visitors say when she refuses to eat with him and also calls him a monster

The reader is then taken back to the prince’s life before he was cursed. The author portrays the prince in such a negative manner that the reader is in complete agreement that the curse is warranted. What is a bit surprising is the source of the curse, as well as the prince’s transformation into the beast.

Serena Valentino provides a very thorough back story that sheds light on the Prince and his relationships with the people who have known him his whole life – from the servants in the castle, to his best friend Gaston, and finally to the one whose heart he breaks leading to the curse.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the way Serena Valentino tells the story of Belle and the Beast is her inclusion of characters from Fairest of All who wreaked havoc on the Queen and continue toying with people’s lives in The Beast Within. This adds such an interesting twist to the beloved fairy tale that we think we know. We all know how the story ultimately ends. However, The Beast Within is so compelling that I wondered at times if there would be a “Happily Ever After.” The twists and turns are fun and exciting, and I, for one, will never see this fairy tale the same.

The Beast Within is a fast, easy read. Anyone who loves the original fairy tale will, no doubt, love Serena Valentino’s version just as much. However, as with Fairest of All, I will wait until my young niece is a bit older before I share this version.