Handsome and the Beast
When I was little, one of my favorite Disney movies was Beauty and the Beast…probably because Belle had brown hair and was obsessed with the written word, just like me. In later years, the idea that true love has the power to restore and renew made the tale relevant all over again (ignoring the theories that Belle actually suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, of course). So, imagine my delight in reading Curses, in which the Beast is a stubborn, well educated female, after my own heart…and in which the Beauty is a charming, handsome young man from the wrong side of the tracks, who has every reason to take advantage of the Beast, but doesn’t. If I had to describe Curses in one word, it would be fun; it’s a true lark of a journey from start to finish, full of witty banter, astute observations about human nature, and creative updates to old fairy tale mores.
What I Loved: The romance between Merit and Tevin is predictable, in that it follows the arc you would expect from a fairy tale adaptation, but it is told with such honesty and mirth that it seems fresh and new. Both characters are well developed and relatable, and I found myself rooting for them together, and individually, right away. The supporting cast of characters are similarly well thought out and inclusive, including a non-binary healer and F/F couple. The redemption tales of several of the story’s villains are also not only heart-warming, but believable. But, prior to their redemption, they are very easy to feel nothing by disdain for, which is the mark of truly good writing.
What I Didn’t Love: The only thing that annoyed me a little, was that towards the end things seemed to drag a little bit. I felt impatient for the story to wrap up, rather than like I was sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what would happen. But, the actual ending made the wait worth it.
Overall, you cannot go wrong with this book if you are looking for some escapist fiction, that is good, clean fun. It is definitely one you could read together with middle school and high school age kiddos, and I will be encouraging all the media specialists in my life to get this one for their school libraries.