Author – Liz Braswell
Series – Twisted Tales
Book Number – #3
Age – YA
Formal – Prose
Edition – Paperback
Number of Pages – 496
Date of Publication – 24th January 2017
Do we really know the tale as old as time? Is it as true as it can be? By my reckoning, no, because this book, like all fiction, takes us to far off places, makes us watch daring sword fights, experience magic spells, and sometimes make us fall head-over-heels in love with the prince in disguise. Beauty and the Beast: A Twisted Tale is all this and more.
Based on the beloved 1991 animated feature film, As Old As Time brings us a twist on our story – what if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?
Belle is exactly who we remember: smart, resourceful, stubborn, adventurous. More than anything, she wants to leave her provincial French town and find a place where she can fit in, where no one will ridicule her for being different. To put it short, to live the life she wants to lead. When her father ends up at a derelict and mysterious castle, as a captor for a hideous and terrifying Beast, Belle does everything she can to save him, giving up her happiness so he can live as freely as he desires even if it means becoming a prisoner herself. As curious and stubborn as she is, she ignores the Beast’s orders to stay out of the West Wing and finds his enchanted rose. Instead of watching the petals fall, the unthinkable happens and Belle has to come to terms with a life and realisation she never considered before. Shocked and confused, she and Beast have to work together to unravel a 21 year mystery she could only dream of happening in books.
What instantly struck me is that Disney’s tale is simply the backbone of the story. In building up the setting, characters, and themes, Liz Braswell has created a new backstory that brings depth and exploration. We find out why Belle is outcast, why the entire castle was enchanted, what possessed the enchantress to cast the spell, and how the villagers truly feel. There is a lot more to the story and what’s particularly fabulous is that it gives an explanation for, arguably, the film’s biggest plot hole – one that I always considered to be a continuity error!
Secondly, I think it does a much better job at teaching the messages of acceptance, patience, kindness, and tolerance. They seep through every aspect of the story and as a result, we are told that the world is grey and complicated, that we make mistakes and that we have to deal with those consequences. It’s playing on the redemption that Once Upon A Time is famous for, and I love it. It also brings in a bit more realism that is helpful in creating a believable world.
“With a dreamy far off look, and her nose stuck in a book,” is the perfect lyric to describe what I was like when reading this. I picked it up, fell right into the prologue and was instantly taken in by the story. I couldn’t leave it on the side for a second whilst I tended to other things; I had to keep reading and I didn’t want it to end.
It’s a perfect addition to the original classic and it was satisfying to read, even if Gaston was as much a pig as ever!
For one thing, I’ll certainly now look at the film in a different light.
When I see ‘A Twisted Tale’ I instantly think, “oh that’s mysterious” and this cover like the other two in the series screams mystery. It takes a while to spot them all but I really like how the smoke from the candelabra gathers around the different images of Belle, the mirror, Beast, and the rose (in fact I only just spotted the rose as I was typing this). It’s also very minimalist and the gold font stands out well against the black background.
Thanks for reading and have a good day!