Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
With magic, the city of Yuan is kept under a dome to keep the “smooth skin” people safe from the “monstrous” people outside the cities. There, a blind princess name Isra is raised to believe she must be sacrificed at the right time to help keep the city protected and supply the people with food. When she becomes the queen, she must marry so the city will have a king. When the dome shows any weakness, she must willingly sacrifice herself to the roses. No one questions these necessities.
The city is attacked by several monstrous beasts from the desert. One beast, Gem, is captured. Gem’s people are starving because they are forced to live in the desert. He was hoping to steal the magical roses, in an effort to save his people from starvation. Instantly, Isra hates the beast and Gem hates the princess; however, as they get to know one another, they fall in love and Isra starts to question everything she was raised to believe.
This is not the first time Stacey Jay has re-told a classic story (see: Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed), and while there are not necessarily exact parallels between the Beauty and the Beast story the Western world is familiar with, there are certainly allusions to it, thus making the title quite fitting.
The love story between Isra and Gem is one of the stronger aspects of the novel, but its audience also needs to enjoy adventure and a have a willingness to suspend disbelief. All in all, I would recommend this novel for teens looking for something a little more adventurous that doesn’t fall in the vampire or werewolf camp.
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