Title: Beauty Reborn
Author: Elizabeth Lowham
Rating: 3.25 Stars
Publication Date: May 9th, 2023
Genre: Young Adult
Format read: Print ARC
Find the Book: StoryGraph | Goodreads
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book from Shadow Mountain Publishing in exchange for an honest review. *Thank you to Callie from Shadow Mountain Books for coordinating this ARC.*
Beauty Reborn is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast that paints a much more favorable Beast, telling the story of an escape from an abusive relationship rather than the entry into one.
When Beauty’s father unknowingly steals a rose from the Beast’s castle, he is asked to give up his life as penance. When he returns home to his family, Beauty offers to go in his place. Beauty not only acts as if she has a death wish; she is very clear on the fact she wishes to die, and finds the perfect excuse in her father’s wrongdoing.
What she finds, however, is a beast who does not intend on keeping her hostage or killing her. In fact, he seems to be the only person who understands and listens to Beauty. Beauty finds herself wanting to know more about him. Through conversations, she discovers that he cannot read. She takes it upon herself to teach him, and in doing so, gives him the space to open up. He is vulnerable in a way no man Beauty had come across in her life was willing (or able) to do.
Prior to her “imprisonment”, Beauty had been proposed to three times by an abusive partner named Stephan and clearly has unresolved trauma from that. When the Beast proposes to her so he can break the curse placed upon him, Beauty does not handle it well. She turns him down many, many times throughout the book, but finds herself falling in love with him along the way.
This book has a few key flaws: the book is written like a middle grade book even though it is marketed towards young adults. The language is pretty childish in comparison to the content it is trying to explore. We only get very surface level descriptions of abuse, which I understand, but it could have definitely dived deeper into Beauty’s emotional state. Beauty also thinks of herself as better than her sister Astra, and we never get to see her suffer any real consequences or reexamine her bias.
Not to mention, while I love the word “whimsical” I was exhausted by it by the end of this book because WOW it was used a lot! We get it, she’s quirky and different. We don’t need to be reminded on every other page.
Despite it being marketed to the wrong audience, “not like other girls” trope, and its lack of any real depth, this book was still an easy, enjoyable read. If you are a fan of children’s books and fairytale retellings, you may want to pick this book up! However, if you want a book that actually addresses the trauma it brings up, I would suggest saving your money for another book.