Hi all! Okay, so I’m sort of back. We’ll see if I can keep going or if more stuff will come up. lol. This week I’m reviewing Five Enchanted Roses, a collection of Beauty and the Beast retellings. And let me tell you, these were amazing! Seriously, each was unique and beautifully written, I honestly don’t know if I could pick a favorite of them. Since there’s five stories, I reviewed each, though on a whole the entire collection was wonderful. (By the way, did I mention that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale? No? Well, it is. Which is why these are so amazing! lol)
Esprit de la Rose is probably the most imaginative of the retellings in this series. After all, mermaids, pirates, and ghosts are usually not associated with this particular tale. But Kaycee Browning makes it work perfectly! Cecilia has a good heart, and even though her relationship with her father is strained, she still sacrifices herself to the mermaids who rule the sea to save him. But she doesn’t expect Pepin, the shadowy, ghost-like figure who captains the strange ship she now finds herself on, who seems to treat her kindly, and almost friendly. The rich setting of the sea, and even a ghostly world help give this tale its magical quality, and weaves it with familiar motifs and new twists. After all, what’s a girl, or ghost captain, to do when you’re stuck on a ghost ship with a crew who’d love to see you dead?
Wither, by Savannah Jezowski, has its own intriguing changes, including living dead and gargoyles. Lilybet isn’t your typical ‘beauty’ either. She’s not the great beauty of her sisters, she hates roses, and it’s her sister, not father, who she replaces in the ‘beast’s’ clutches. But she’s got sass and spunk and a lot of strength, especially to wander into The Neverway, a place filled with undead creatures. Then there’s Corwin, a ‘beast’ with a good heart, who’s ‘curse’ is to help others. The sparks fly between these two, even as Lilybet soon learns just how important he is, and what he does. But, when torn between his quest and her own dear sister, what choice can she make? With a gothic backdrop, a crumbling abbey, and a creepy forest, this tale is certainly a darker, but no less enjoyable one.
Janelle Schmidt is the third author with her tale, Stone Curse. This one is probably the sweetest retelling of the story. It starts with Karyna, a lady-in-waiting to a missing princess trying to live her life in a castle filled with so many frozen in stone, and a prince who’s been turned into a beast. Barend and her have a connection from the start, and it’s so nice to see that friendship develop through the course of the story. As she sets out on an adventure to discover what happened, and perhaps try to break the curse, she meets new friends, and makes enemies. This story has nice dialogue between the characters, and I like how it’s much more focused on the mystery of why the prince was turned, rather than just trying to turn him back. Add to it a few very clever surprises, and this one had me hooked.
The fourth story, Rosara and the Jungle King by Dorian Tsukioka, certainly takes this tale to a whole new level! Set in the jungles of Africa, this story was just vivid with imagery and a change in pace of culture. Rosara is the daughter of a tribal leader, but even as such, she is trapped in a world where she is only seen as property. That is until she meets Tupa, a talking jaguar who not only befriends her, but saves her life. Together they have to navigate the treacheries of the jungle, and men bent on destruction. This one was a lot heavier than the other stories, but no less good. It has its own unique twists and turns bringing surprises that were not expected.
Last in this collection is The Wulver’s Rose by Hayden Wand. This story is exactly what a Beauty and the Beast story should be. Set amongst the Scottish Highlands, Bonnie is the wonderful ‘beauty’ character, a girl who doesn’t see her own worth, but always looks after her family. And the beast character is so kind and good, even pushing away his own chance and redemption and happiness to save another. And I love the unique twist of the rose in this story! It was so sweet and beautiful. I also like the Christian references found in this story, and though I wouldn’t necessarily categorize it as Christian fiction, I do like how Bonnie’s faith is key to the entire story.
All together, this series was wonderful to read. Each story is unique, wonderfully written, and continues the beauty of the original tale. It is a series I highly recommend.
I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a review. This is my honest review, and all the words are mine.