Friday, March 18, 2011

"Beast" by Donna Jo Napoli


This is a lesson, O great hunter Orasmyn: Never attack dangerous beasts unless they are weak. Another lesson: Don't assume they are weak.
The Feast of Sacrifices is coming up. The Persian Prince Orasmyn is acting as a hajjiha, and he takes it upon himself to make sure that his family's sacrifice animal- a camel- is prepared. As he and his best friend make the preparations, they find a scar on the animal's hump. It is written that only non-blemished animals are to be sacrificed, but Orasmyn figures it doesn't matter all that much. He and his friend hide the blemish and continue on.
At first, all seems to be well after the sacrifice. Nothing's too odd... not until a pari (fairy) appears to Orasmyn, and puts a curse on him that will change his life forever.
Taking the form of a lion, Orasmyn must run away from his father, away from his country, to seek a woman who will love him. His quest takes him to France, where Belle, a beautiful merchant's daughter, will somehow find her way to him.
So the Merciful One forgives me, I am sure. That illustration of Rustam is one of my favorites, all gold and metallic green.
I miss colors.
As is probably obvious from the synopsis, this is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. But a retelling like I have never read before. Instead of focusing on Belle, it focuses on the Beast... and his story. Instead of him being a haughty prince, he's changed into a religious and normal prince... and instead of a random beast, he's turned into a lion... This part was apparently based off of a poem that Donna Jo Napoli read.
I'd give this book four stars.

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