March 21, 2017

Book Review | As Old As Time

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As Old As Time is the third book in the Twisted Tale trilogy by Liz Braswell. Although this is the third book in the series you don’t have to read the other two to read this one. Each one is its own standalone novel exploring different storylines from classic Disney movies. This particular novel focuses on Beauty and the Beast and poses the question: What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

The book is sectioned off into three parts. The first part follows Belle as she is introduced to us in the original 1991 animated feature. She is living a provincial life, reading and dreaming of far off places, daring sword fights, and magic spells until she takes her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner. She meets the enchanted objects and explores the forbidden West Wing where she touches the enchanted rose, and things go wrong. We are also given chapters in between these familiar scenes that show Belle’s father Maurice meeting and falling in love with Belle’s mother, who turns out to be an enchantress. There is discourse and violence in the kingdom against those who possess these magical abilities, and many magical beings are killed in the process. This is all because of the cold King and Queen who do nothing but sit in their castle. Eventually the plague comes, killing the King and Queen and leaving their son, who is still a young boy, to take the throne. Belle’s family has moved to a new village (the one we see Belle grow up in), but Belle’s mother wants to make sure that the young Prince is not as cold-hearted as his parents. He fails her test and is cursed. The other two parts of the novel focus on Belle trying to break the curse, spending time in the library with Beast and exploring the grounds to find a way for the Beast and the objects to escape with her, as well as Gaston plotting to lock Maurice in the asylum.

The overall tone of this book is similar to the new live action movie starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. It’s a little darker than the cartoon, but it expands on Belle and Beast’s friendship before they fall in love.

Also, I’m not sure how canon this book is to the Disney movie from 1991, but it did offer some answers to plot holes in the movie.

Why does no one in the village remember the royal family or the castle? Because the enchantress wiped the memories from people’s minds.

Where/Who is Chip’s dad? Mr. Potts used to work at the castle as the Stable Master and was the Prince’s favorite servant, but one day he went away and never came back.

Why does no one age except the Beast? Inanimate objects don’t age while people and animals do.

Why is the portrait of the Beast older than when he would have supposedly been cursed at age 11? It has a Dorian-Gray-type spell on it where the portrait ages with the Beast and shows him how he would look as a human if he had never been cursed: handsome but with a cold, unfeeling heart and cruel eyes (a fact that Belle notices and seems to frighten her a bit).

 

This was the best of the two Twisted Tale books that I have read. While it did feel a little slow at some spots in the middle, it felt like the author had finally hit her stride with her writing, and was clearly having a ton of fun with this prompt. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve read this book, what your thoughts were, and what is your favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling!

Thanks for reading!

September 8, 2016

Book Review | Poor Unfortunate Souls

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Hi everyone! I’m here today with a book review of Poor Unfortunate Souls by Serena Valentino.

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For a book that is supposed to be about Ursula, she isn’t in it very much.

I really enjoyed the first books in this trilogy (Fairest of Them All and The Beast Within). Both offered some interesting back stories for Snow White‘s Evil Queen and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast respectively. So when I heard that there would be one for Ursula, I automatically added it to my TBR list.

Ursula is, in my opinion, one of the top three best Disney villains, right up there with Jafar and Maleficent in terms of being the most evil and powerful. I was really excited to read her backstory and learn more about her motivations for dethroning King Triton and becoming ruler of the oceans.

Unfortunately this one was a disappointing read for me. The parts that actually touched on The Little Mermaid characters were great (mostly because they were just dialogue from the movie. Seriously, there is one chapter where it’s pretty much just the lyrics of Poor Unfortunate Souls, but you won’t hear any complaints from me there). The rest…not so much.

The main focus of the story is not on Ursula, but is in fact on the Odd Sisters, three witches who made appearances in the first two books. They interact with Ursula a handful of times, but that’s about it. The rest of the time they are arguing with each other and discussing how to find their other sister. The story also focuses on a princess named Tulip and her Nanny, and also this cat that belongs to both the Odd Sisters and Princess Tulip. It all felt very random. So yeah, this story was lacking what should have been its real main character, and instead focused on these other characters who were really hard care about.

The opening of the book does touch on Ursula’s youth and how she actually grew up living in a village with an adoptive father. She is called to the sea and seems aware that she has some type of magical abilities. However, her adoptive father dies and her real brother Triton emerges from the sea to bring her to her true home. However he convinces people that she is dangerous and she is exiled. I personally found this all very interesting and was waiting for it to be expanded on, to see more scenes of Ursula and her brother interacting, of seeing how the subjects of her kingdom felt about her, of her possibly trying to get her revenge in other ways before deciding to wait for the perfect opportunity to strike again (which would be through using Ariel). But no. It was more time spent with the other characters. When you have the license to write the backstory of one of the most well-known animated villains in the Disney universe and she is given the backseat, you know you have a problem.

Another problem here was that there was more telling than showing, and some things felt like they were being repeated over and over again, almost as if the book knew I might start glossing over things and forget what was happening while I tried to get to the next scene that actually contained elements of the Little Mermaid story-line that I know and love.

Also there was a subplot (I guess?) concerning the Dark Fairy (a.k.a. Maleficent), and the Odd Sisters kept saying, “Fire and Water don’t mix, we can’t tell her we are working with Ursula blah blah blah.” Um, no. A boss battle between Maleficent and Ursula would have been way better than having to deal with all the scenes starring Princess Tulip and her Nanny.

I do like this author’s writing in certain scenes, and I really, really enjoyed her previous books, but sadly, I could not get invested in this. I suggest checking out the other two books in this trilogy if you are a Disney fan and have any interest in re-tellings.

Thanks for reading!