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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beast - Donna Jo Napoli

Read for the Young Adult and Once Upon a Time II Reading Challenges.

This tale of the beast from Beauty and the Beast is an interesting twist on the fairy tale.

In the author’s notes, she lists a popular poetry version of this tale by Charles Lamb in 1811 as the inspiration for the setting of the story. In the poem, Lamb notes that the beast was originally a prince from Persia, and names him as Orasmyn.

Napoli’s book is the story of how Prince Orasmyn makes a foolish decision and earns the curse of a pari-a Perisan fairy. Now in the form of a lion, in order to avoid dying at his father’s hand, as foretold by the pari, Orasmyn makes the long journey to France. The rest of the story, anyone with a DVD player knows.

The book probably takes place a bit more in Persia than it does in France, and the author has set the atmosphere well, using enough native terms to set the flavor without making everything completely unfamiliar.

Anyone that’s a big fan of the story of the beauty may be disappointed in this book. Belle (and she is called Belle) makes an appearance fairly late in the story, and while she does come with a back story, and good motivation to fall in love with the beast, she is a lesser character then he is.


Nymeth said...

Okay, this settles it. I will have to add some books by Donna Jo Napoli to my challenge list.

The fact that this is more about the Beast than about Beauty makes it appeal to me even more. It seems to be an original take on the story.

Thanks for the lovely review :)

Megan said...

Glad you liked it :)

I also read Sirena quite a few years ago, and enjoyed it. I keep meaning to read more of her books, but they're buried in the purgatory of my library TBR list.

Carl V. said...

It sounds like a very interesting take on the Beauty and the Beast tale if it focuses more on him. Nice to see people being creative with old stories.

jenclair said...

I think I'm partial to hearing the Beast's side now, so I may look for this one.