Beauty and the Beast: Relocating and Refreshing

Who doesn't love the classic story of Beauty and the Beast? Disney gave it to me to grow up with and I always adore it when I run across another take on the original tale (some better than others). Juliet Marillier was the perfect author to take this on. The setting and lovely style she uses suit the story well, and she reinvented the characters in such a way that they were original and absolutely riveting.

A young woman on the run, offering her skills as a scribe to any who would take her in; a collection of cursed men and women bound to the mysterious hold of Whistling Tor; the threat of Norman incursion ... and a physically flawed, emotionally remote master clearly held within a tangled web of lies, magic and tragedy. It makes for a fabulously refreshing blend of the original folktale and the brutal history of the British Isles!

Marillier remains true to the heart of the story's intent. She doesn't take wild liberties, but allows the inherent flavor of her chosen place and time to imbue the known plot with new life. The "Beauty" is a believable mix of soft beauty, intelligence, and gentle kindness -- along with that spark of determination needed here. The "Beast" is a wonderful take on historical perception. Here we have a man - rich, powerful, entitled - but disfigured and maimed. In a time of religious anxiety and little to no medical understanding, such a person might well have been viewed as a "beast," perhaps cursed by demons or the Devil himself. Hats off to Marillier for coming up with a way to incorporate the beastly aspect of the original character in a very believable and historically accurate way.

If there is anything to say against "Heart's Blood," it is that it is not quite as impressive when compared to Marillier's other work. However, the Sevenwaters series is extensive and complex, so it isn't a very fair comparison.

"Heart's Blood" offers a beautiful, refreshing look at a long-loved tale. Who knew that Beauty and the Beast could be a suspense story?! As all the cheesy advertisements say: fall in love all over again!

...and may I simply say: holy gorgeous cover art!!!