The first thing about this novel by Ms Elizabeth Rose is — it’s very pretty. The cover is quite eye catching, the picture gives you some hit at that, but if you’re holding the book in your hand … well, it’s visually gorgeous.
But I’m not here to review the cover.
This story is a twist on the very old tale, Beauty and the Beast, which is in turn a retelling of an even older tale.
Before I get started, a warning: the editing could have been better. Some mistakes that not only wouldn’t have happened with just one more good proofread by someone, but also some sentences that could have stood better attention from the editor. There’re also some layout and punctuation issues (like I’m one to criticise orthography, given how I type — but these are off the cuff blog posts, not a book that’s gone through editorial review). Mostly, though, it’s not very detracting and is quite ignorable, but for the pedants out there, beware. Inconsistent use of either a double dash or an em-dash, a missing paragraph break here or there, and so forth.
Now, on to the main course here.
This story was not my personal cup of tea. I’m a fan of fairytales. I love a fractured fairytale as much as the next guy, in the old Sherman & Mr Peabody cartoons from Rocky & Bullwinkle or in the form of things such as The Unhandsome Prince. This wasn’t a broken fairytale — it didn’t say there was no happily ever after, or anything of the sort, more like a twisted, dark fairytale and the ending leaves you to decide if it was happy or not. But, and this is important, I read it; I finished it, and I genuinely looked forward to turning the page — the author did a fine job.
Honestly, if you’re a fan of the new trend to twist fairytales, buy this book. If not, you might want to pass this one up.
As an author it’s often difficult to read anything and not go: “oh, she should have done thus”; or to say, “I would have had …”. It is, really. Still, all told, the narrative worked, the voice and tone of it carried through. The character that act out of character are called on it within the context of the story. My only real beef was I felt the ending wasn’t a very firm one — it left open a lot of why and what if and what next and so on. Now, it’s not a weak ending, nor a “oh, I should stop the story now” ending like some authors (especially those writing to contract are guilty of due to word count limits), no. It’s a fine ending, just — once again, not my cuppa. I’m more a “wrap it all up; if you don’t, make sure you plan to come back to the world and characters sometime” sort of person.
I’m giving this one an awesome. The writing is good. I looked into Mockingbird Lane Press and they provide an editor, so layout and editing glitches aren’t the author’s fault, and besides that — only two or three made a sentence incomprehensible, the rest the right or missing word was obvious. The story was both recognisable — even some cute hints at Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which I thought was cute — and unique; all too often these attempts are retelling the story are a copy and paste of the original work with a few things edited, or the setting updated. This, on the other hand, pure original story with the old tale as a template, very nice.
Speaking with the author, the ebook version isn’t out yet but is coming. She’s aware of the layout and typos issues (was before I commented on them, many kudos points for that — no book makes it to the shelf perfect, but as small press or self-pub authors we can do far more about it!) and is trying to straighten them out before releasing the ebook.
For those fond of dead trees, you can get a link to various places to buy from this page here. (or, as always, by clicking the book cover)