Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Before Beauty by Brittany Fichter


With the freedom of the kingdom at stake, can an accursed prince and a broken beauty move beyond their hatred for one another, not only to break the curse, but to find love as well?

Prince Everard’s father spent the boy's youth forging the prince into a warrior. Upon the king’s death, however, Everard realizes he’s lost himself somewhere along the way, and in his pain, makes a decision that brings a dark curse upon both him and the great Fortress that has so long guarded the people of Destin.

The prince's sin doesn’t simply affect those of his citadel, however. Isa, the daughter of a local merchant, has suffered the prince’s hasty temper before, and it changed her life forever. When Everard’s final outburst cuts off his people’s source of protection with the curse, he demands that she, a crippled commoner, comes to help him break it. All the while, Destin’s northern enemy crouches at the foot of the Fortress’s mountain, waiting for the right moment to capture the stronghold that has stood for a thousand years.

Can Ever and Isa move past their brokenness to save Destin together, or will they and their beloved kingdom remain under darkness forever?

With Beauty and the Beast being one of my all time favorite stories I have read many re-tales.
This is a brilliant re-telling and one I know I will read again. 

The story started off different than other re-tales. Where most start off with the Prince already cursed, this version actually introduces you to the Princes when he is just a boy, which was a nice surprise. 
Instead of being introduced to the 'Beauty' first, Brittany opens the book with Prince Everard (Ever), where we see him for the boy he is, trying to become the man his father wants him to be.

Interestingly Brittany had decided that the King and Prince have powers of blue flames granted to them by the fortress that is their kingdom. And Ever seems to be the strongest one for generations. This aids them in battle and also allows them to heal injuries.   

A rather unfortunate meeting with Isabelle -who is playing the Beauty of the story-leaves the prices despising her for years, even though he doesn't see her again for more than a decade.
The book then moves onto the boy now turned into a respected Prince and solider, preparing to choose a bride. 

Here we are introduced to Nevina, who is the main antagonist. She wields a dark power compared to Ever's own blue fire, which allows her to create nightmares and torture her foes, even friends. She had attended Ever's ball hoping that he would forget the torment she caused him as a child and pick her as his wife. When she realizes this is not going to happen, she declares war on Ever and his Kingdom.

The king falls in the attack on Nevina, meanign Ever must now become king. However, he has become someone the fortress believes unfit to rule. At the coronation, the fortress refuses him and sends the land into darkness. The only way to regain his lands and finally defeat Nevina is to break the spell. 

Another twist that Brittany puts in her book, is making the Beauty imperfect. Isabelle has never been beautiful, her wrist and ankle were beyond repair when they were broken by a horse when she was child.
She walks with a limp and cannot do the tasks that other women can due to her damaged hand. 

After her fiancee leaves her she thinks she has no purpose anymore. Then her father seeks shelter from the snow storm in the fortress where the cursed Prince demands that he send his daughter to him in three days. 

Prince Ever hopes Isabelle will be the one to break the curse. Isabelle doesn't even know where to begin. She despises the Prince. 

But perhaps he was not the man she had thought he was all this time.

Overall, with the new elements that the author has added to her characters, and the story she has created kept me hooked until the end. 

The only minor I can point out is that she seemed to refer to her character by the wrong name at one point. It is stated within the first few chapters of the book that Prince Ever's mother is named Queen Louise, but then half way through the book she is referred to as Queen Monica, then at the end she is Queen Louise again.
Just a minor point and nothing that ruins the book. 

If you love fairy tales then this is a book you will certainly enjoy.

Better yet, it has TWO sequels which I will be moving onto soon. 



Sunday, 18 September 2016

Dragon Rose By Christine Pope

 "For the first time, I understood reality could be so much lovelier than dreams"

Dragon Rose is a book from the Tales of the Latter Kingdoms series by Christine Pope.
If you like re-telling of classic Disney stories but with a new twist then this series is something you should definitely have a look at.  

At the beginning of the book we meet Rhianne, the eldest of 4 daughters who is being courted by a much older man, hoping she will marry him.
Her mother thinks this is a good suit for her daughter, but Rhianne has different ideas. 
Selflessly saving her best friend from a marriage to the Dragon of Black's Keep, Rhianne offers herself as his bride.

There are lots of stories about how the Lord of Black's keep became a dragon, everyone knows he was cursed, but no one knows why or how to break the curse. 

Will Rhianne be the one to break it? Or will she perish like his many brides before her? 

"No, Rhianne" he exclaimed, and his arms tightened around me. "Fight it. You must fight it, my darling."

Christine Pope keeps you immersed in this story with great characters and a story line that will have you hooked. 

Her writing keeps the book flowing at a great pace and doesn't go to heavy into things that will never concern the character again.

As much as Lord Theran, the Dragon of Black's Keep is a private character you feel you get to know him well enough to want him to get his happy ending, but he is still held back from the reader a great deal so to keep the mystery surrounding him and his curse.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen more of was the Dragon form itself, it appears only twice in the whole book and only for a paragraph or two at most. The rest is Theran in his human form.
Also the only interaction Rhianne and Theran had was when they had dinner together at night. It would have been interesting to see the characters together in a different inviroment. 
at the end you never hear what happens to the servants with their new Lord and how they have reacted, which would also have been nice to see. 

Over all it was an very enjoyable read and I am certainly going to be picking up the other stories in this collection!