Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret…
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.
I love retelling of fairy tales, and this is no exception. This author was able to take the idea of a beauty and a beast and completely spin it in a way that makes it fun, unique and completely enjoyable.
The beginning of the story was a bit to get through in order to connect with the characters. Although the author did a grand job of creating her own world that is rich with imagery.
Here in this story it’s Beast that is the captive, and Beauty is actually neither a beauty nor a paragon. I didn’t really see Isra as Belle, but I saw her more as maybe a Repunzel and/or a Sleeping Beauty . She is a princess in a tower, locked up safe, she is lied to, coddled, suffocated, used, manipulated, and “protected” from the real world. She is blind with one handmaiden who is dumb.
Isa will one day sacrifice herself for the good of the city. In order to ensure and keep the dome intact Yuan’s queens spill their blood on the magical rose garden and die. It’s the covenant they’ve made with the roses. If this sacrifice does not take place the city will fall, and everyone known as Smooth Skins will be at the mercy of the elements of the desert outside and the people kept without known as the Monstrous.
Gem is a Monstrous. His body was changed in order to survive the harsh elements of the outside world. He has claws, fangs, and scales, he is bigger, and stronger that help him survive. All Monstrous people have traits like this. But the Monstrous people are dying out. With nothing to produce in the harsh desert lands the Monstrous are starving. They know of the roses and it’s magical powers but don’t know what keeps the roses alive and how it gives the Smooth Skins land fertility. So he tries to steal a rose to bring back to his people. But the night that he is to steal a rose, he is captured by the Smooth Skins.
This story is definitely a powerful one. Because as you read you keep wondering, who is the Beauty and who is really the Beast?
Overall: It was clean and enjoyable and I loved it.
Sexual Content: mild