Esprit de la Rose: Pirates, mermaids, and a high-seas adventure? That’s more or less the last thing I’d expect in a Beauty and the Beast adventure . . . but it turns out to be quite the exciting tale! I enjoyed the very unique twist on the original story and the mystery of the Esprit de la Rose and her crew. Even though I know the original tale very well, I found myself eagerly wondering what would happen next. There were a few parts, particularly regarding the ending, which I felt could’ve been made clearer, but overall, I definitely enjoyed this unusual take on the classic story.
Wither: Oh, oh, oh. This story. It’s undoubtedly my favorite retelling in the collection, haunting creepy and filled with mystery, but sweet at the same time. Lilybet and Corwin are awesome. And then there’s the ending. Just, the ending. It’s like all the amazing of the rest of the story got tripled and then condensed in those last several chapters. I finished the story and then had to read the ending all over again because it’s so epic and amazing and beautiful, and then I reread it again when I edited this review. It’s wonderful. This whole story is wonderful; I can complain about nothing.
Stone Curse: I’d heard several of my friends getting excited for this story, and so expected to love it as much or more than Wither . . . but I’m afraid it fell a bit flat for me. The author’s version of the curse was interesting, but I didn’t really connect with the characters. Also, I was left with too many questions- particularly, how did the person who caused the curse get the ability to cause it in the first place?- and the ending seemed too convenient to me.
Rosara and the Jungle King: Like our first story, this is a highly unique version of the Beauty and the Beast story, this time set in a tropical jungle. From the first sentence, I was entranced by the author’s writing style and the main character’s voice. I loved Tupa as well, and his relationship with Rosara. There were one or two things I didn’t like- the ending fell a touch flat for me, and I’m not quite sure what to think of the karawara- but overall, I enjoyed this story.
The Wulver’s Rose: A delightful ending to the collection and my second favorite story from it, The Wulver’s Rose runs very closely to the original version of Beauty and the Beast, while still holding unique elements. I like just about everything about this story: the characters, the setting (Scotland, in the mid 18th century), and that the author included Beauty’s dreams, an element of the original often forgotten in retellings. The only reason this didn’t take first place, really, is that really getting into the story took me a few chapters. Otherwise, this is a lovely and sweet story.
Overall, I loved this collection of five lovely and unique Beauty and the Beast retellings. While a dark thread does run through all of them- and some more than others- that's understandable; Beauty and the Beast is a somewhat darker fairytale, and never does the darkness overwhelm the beauty of the stories. I would highly recommend this collection to teen lovers of fairy tales.