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Of Beast and Beauty

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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.

391 pages, Hardcover

First published July 23, 2013

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About the author

Stacey Jay

23 books1,756 followers
Stacey Jay is a recovering workaholic (or at least working hard at recovering) with three pen names, two small children, and a passion for playing pretend for a living. She’s been a full time mom-writer since 2005 and can't think of anything she'd rather be doing. Her former careers include theatre performer, professional dancer, poorly paid C-movie actress, bartender, waiter, math tutor (for real) and yoga instructor.

Learn more at http://staceyjay.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,415 reviews
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,469 followers
April 15, 2018

4.5 stars

Growing up, Beauty and the Beast was my favorite Disney movie. C’mon, a chick that likes to read, a spooky castle, evil townies, a Tauren love interest, plus some homoerotic household goods? What’s not to love?

So it’s understandable that I was a little nervous that this book would take those wonderful childhood memories and shit all over them. It didn’t. It took everything that I loved about that movie and made it darker.

Stacey Jay took Belle and said “Fuck what you think you know about this character”. She took Beast and said “Fuck what you think you know about this character”. She switched up their roles while somehow remaining true to their story and then dropped them into a futuristic world on a dying, distant planet. She took that single creepy rose and transformed it into a pulsing, seething, thorn-filled garden with a dark heart.

I can’t say that I enjoyed every second of this book but that’s because I wasn’t meant to. I was meant to be angry, I was meant to be frustrated, I was meant to be sad. Like in the original story, these characters are more than just skin deep. Even the support cast had depth that I don’t find in most MCs these days. They kept me on my toes, kept me unnerved. Do I like this dude or is he just a ginormous twatwaffle?


And then you have Beauty and the Beast themselves, or in this case, Isra and Gem. I was rooting for them from the second they laid eyes on each other. Those stubborn assholes.

But you know what? I got it. I totally understood why it took them so long to figure their shit out and that’s part of the beauty of this book. Even when they pissed me off I loved them, was rooting for them.

Another beautiful part of this book was the writing. Some books are a chore to read. Some are fun to read. Then you have books like this, those that are so well written that you forget that you’re even reading.

So, fantastc twist on a classic + fantastic characterization + fantastic writing + fantastic pacing = WIN.

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August 8, 2013
Actual rating: 3.5

This book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where Beast is the captive, and Beauty is neither a beauty nor a paragon. Isra is not Belle, she is Rapunzel, she is Sleeping Beauty. She is a princess in a tower, locked up safe, coddled, and infuriatingly protected from the real world.

I wanted desperately to love this book, but it just didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I absolutely love alternate versions of fairy tales, and let's face it, those of us who have watched Disney's Beauty and the Beast are hooked for life. This is not a bad book, this is nowhere near a bad book. It just ultimately failed to hold my attention somewhere along the way. The characters were brilliantly portrayed, the writing is poetic, lyrical, and descriptive without being purple prosy or sounding like it was overachieving. Despite all its strengths, Of Beast and Beauty's plot was not engrossing for me overall. Among what I felt were its weaknesses were the unrealistic portrayal of romance, and a storyline that was initially fascinating but progressed too slowly and ultimately lost my interest.

The summary of the book makes the plot sound more simple than it actually is. The actual plot is a lot more complicated, involving enchanted roses, the mystery of the Domed City, the mystery of the Covenant. It deals with issues with beauty within versus beauty without. It questions the characters' own belief in beauty and whether the outward appearance is an accurate reflection of the soul. It deals with internal securities, of anger, inborn prejudices. The book ties everything together well, the world is well-portrayed, particularly that of the desert.
"The desert bears their scars. The land spread out below us is all but barren. The desert floor is baked hard. The wind can barely move it. There are no more dust storms here. The ground cracks like eggshells, the pieces moving farther apart with every month that passes without rain. The trees are dead, and the few cacti that stubbornly push their way up from the scarred earth cast gnarled shadows, crooked fingers."
Did I mention I love the writing? I need to mention it again, because I absolutely LOVED the writing. It's among the best in the YA batches that I've read this year.

I wished that there had been more details on the domed city of Yuan. To be honest, that was part of my interest in reading the book. For me, Beauty & the Beast + Asian-related setting = SOLD (I'm Asian, there's a distinct lack of Asian-related books, so I am admittedly biased). The thing is, I never really got a feel for the culture and description of Yuan. Yes, there are Asian names, references to Asian culture, doing one's duty, etc., but they're just names, ideas. The city itself, the culture, the people, their customs weren't well-built, and never really felt real in my mind. The desert, the harshness of it, the bleak, lifelessness of the setting was so much clearer than the actual city containing thousands of people, an entire culture.

Our heroine is blind, consequently, we see how she feels and senses things; her perceptions and heightened senses relative to her lack of sight was beautifully described...when it was described. I was actually a little disappointed at the lack of descriptions when we see things from her point of view (the book is written from a first-person perspective, with alternating narrators). It just doesn't feel like Isra is a good portrayal of a person who is actually blind. The best scenes in the book from her point of view was from the introductory chapters, when we see her running through the dark, feeling things, sensing things. Aside from that, we get very little sense that she is someone lacking sight.

Character development is an absolute must for me within a book, and man, this book did it so well. A little too well, sometimes. Gem, Isra, Bo, are all wonderfully complex characters, imperfect, flawed, human. Bo's character surprised me most. Initially, I felt like there was a setup for us to hate him, and so, like a good little book reader, I did! Frustrating as he is, as much as I disliked his patronizing, condescending ass most of the time, he shows himself to be not completely lacking in kindness and compassion.
"It isn't right that she should live [life] in darkness. I don’t care what my baba said, I will not see my queen suffer any more than she must by virtue of her birth. I will see her eyes light up with wonder. I will see her smile as she looks at me and knows I am the one who restored her."
Gem and Isra are so alike, yet so different. Not just by the nature of their appearance, although there, the difference is obviously vast. Isra is a Smooth Skin, human in appearance, yet flawed, not the ideal beauty by any means, but mainly in her own mind. Gem is a Monstrous, taller and broader than the average Yuan citizen by far, covered in orange and golden scales. They are as different as night and day, one royalty, one a monstrous outcast, not even allowed into Yuan, hunted and despised. Yet both are prisoners of their own mind, both are angry, both are full of self-doubt and loathing for what they feel are their personal weaknesses. They hate each other, having grown up believing nothing good of the other kind, believing in preconceived notions of goodness and beauty.

Isra is sheltered within an inch of her life due to her position as royalty, and due to her disability and the taint of her late mother's madness. Her character frustrated me sometimes, she is so angry, so hurt inside, yet she keeps it bottled up, and ends up more or less a doormat of a queen. Isra is so utterly passive at times, and I can feel Gem's frustration as he suffers in dealing with Isra and her endless list of insecurities. She does not step up as a leader, she lets people tell her what to do, how to dress, how to act. Isra is a fucking QUEEN, she needs to grow some balls. Isra is a puppet of a ruler; she can barely muster up the energy to stand up for herself, much less run a country. Her passivity and her fatalistic state of mind is completely incomprehensible to Gem, because she is so ready to surrender to everyone and everything, and he is unrelenting.
"'Do it...do it! Kill me!'
Her words make my blood burn. 'You're so ready to die?' I demand in her language. 'My people would do anything to live. Anything.'"
I do so love the characters, but their romance felt much too soon, too forced, too fast. They are well in love before a third of the book is through. From literally wanting to kill each other, to falling in love in that short of a time, is incomprehensible to me. Their interactions in-between weren't conducive to romance, they bond, yes, but each have their personal purpose in using the other, and their growing feelings just felt completely obligatory overall. Their love is also overwrought with angst, and the romance is a much too prevalent part of the novel, where I felt like the plot should have been the focus.
"The most accomplished lover in Yuan kissed me, long and deep, and continues to do his best to seduce me, and I feel nothing but vague curiosity and more pronounced anxiety. Now a beast from the desert stands too close, and I am dizzy with wanting him. I crave his calloused hands on me."

Overall: excellent characters, lovely writing, a lot of angst (to each his own), but the plot didn't hold my attention overall.
Profile Image for Anne.
3,872 reviews69.2k followers
March 14, 2022
This one was a very low 3 stars for me. I probably would have rated less than 3, but I didn't think it would be fair to the book, because it wasn't badly written.
But I was so BORED the entire time I was reading. I kept waiting for whatever awesomeness was supposed to happen that made (seemingly) every other reviewer fall in love with it.
It never happened for me.


I didn't hate the characters, but I never fell in love with the idea of Isra & Gem together. Part of that reason may have been because of the image that got stuck in my mind of his physical description.
Gem was described as this lizard-like creature. Now, I'm not sure what the author intended, but I kept picturing some scaly Creature from the Black Lagoon. Only with sharp, pointy teeth.


It just ruined any chance that I could get behind the kissing scenes. I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I know that it's wrong of me to judge a character on their looks. Especially in a Beauty and the Beast retelling!
I feel so ashamed, but I couldn't help it. It grossed me out, and I couldn't get past it. I'm thinking I would have been fine if they hadn't done all the sexytime stuff.
*internally screaming*
THE TEETH! Watch the TEETH, Isra!


Ok, obviously, a lot of readers weren't bothered by this, which probably means I'm even more shallow than I originally thought. Which is sad! I mean, if my husband had scaly skin & shark teeth...
I'd really miss him.
Now, while I did think this was a really different and interesting take on Beauty & the Beast, the plot seemed to drag too much for me to find it truly interesting. However, it does have an incredible backstory & setting, with this cool sci-fi/fantasy feel to it.
So, while it wasn't perfect for me, it might be perfect for you.

Profile Image for Denisse.
491 reviews292 followers
August 26, 2015
Read for the 2015 Reading Challenges #28 A book with antonyms in the title.

4.5 This is definitely a must for any Beauty and the Beast fan like me. We all know that story, so expect this book to be a romance, centered a lot on the character development and love aspects, not too deep into the fantasy world it creates but involved in a very fantastical atmosphere improved by the beautiful writing. It has the classical B&B elements, but overall it follows its own rules. A fresh retelling for what, at least for me, is the most beautiful love story ever told.

"I will show her that loving her is my greatest truth"

Lo primero a recalcar sobre este libro es la escritura. Bellísima. Muy ligera y fantástica que daba ganas de seguir leyendo. Lo segundo que voy a recalcar es lo atrapante de la historia. Como ya sabremos solo por el nombre este es un retelling de La Bella y la Bestia y como ya sabemos esa es la mejor historia de amor creada por Disney y no, no estoy abierta a discusión. XD Muy personalmente yo considero que también es la mejor historia de amor de todos los tiempos pero como eso involucra a muchísimas más películas/series/libros estoy de acuerdo si difieren. Pero de Disney? Si, la mejor. No, sh sh shhhh, ya te dije que no esta abierto a discusión, ya let it go. XD

Entonces, a que me refiero con que algo a recalcar para mi es lo atrapante de la historia? Bueno, que yo no soy la mayor fan de las historias de amor. Así que cuando un libro se centra tanto en eso y me gusta es un punto a su favor bastante grande.

Of Beast and Beauty, es un retelling que quiere estar aparte de su historia original pero también dar el mismo mensaje y Stacey Jay, la autora, lo logra increíble. Porque un retelling de B&B que no tenga la moraleja de ver mas allá del aspecto físico pierde completamente su propósito y mi atención.

Tiene muchos simbolismos del cuento original, pero los transforma en algo más oscuro y le da una vuelta muy peculiar a otros tantos dándole un factor sorpresa muy bueno al libro. Básicamente en este mundo hay ciudades viviendo en domos para desligarse del desértico exterior donde viven los Monstrous Pero las divisiones no son tan simples como eso. Definitivamente una historia con más capas de las que pensé y con personajes más complicados de lo esperado.

Tiene pocos personajes importantes pero todos están muy bien desarrollados, sobretodo Isra y Gem, nuestros protagonistas. Y como toda historia de amor, solo funciona si te crees el romance que conlleva, y en mi caso, me encanto. Disfrute mucho sus escenas juntos, aunque me hubiera gustado un poco más de desarrollo para pasar de enemigos a amigos y luego a un toque más romántico. Pero las escenas funcionan y gracias a la escritura de Jay, se leen lindisimas.

La historia tiene un prologo impresionante. A mi me encanto, pero ahí se viene el error del libro, o lo que para mi hizo que no le diera las 5 completas. Te cuenta cosas. Cosas que la protagonista no descubre hasta la mitad o mas del libro así que para cuando lo hace, no te impacta mucho, porque tu ya lo sabias. Pero, Jay se guardo varios giros que hacen del final uno tal vez no excelente pero bastante dinámico.

Lo recomiendo mucho, si buscas una fantasía ligera y una buena historia de amor a la segura Of Beast and Beauty cumplirá eso y un poco mas. O para cualquiera que, al igual que yo, este en busca de ese retelling perfecto de La Bella y la Bestia, yo aun sigo buscando pero este es un gran aporte. Si buscas una fantasía mas densa o mas profunda, este no es tu libro, te recuerdo que se centra bastante en la historia de amor y no tiene un world-building muy grande pero lo poco que esta ahí, funciona.

"Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it."

Estoy muy feliz de haberlo comprado en físico porque definitivamente lo releería en un futuro :D y la portada es perfecta. Y ahora cantemos juntos:

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends

Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast

No les dieron ganas de llorar, a mi si :’)

PD: YA MALDITA SEA! aunque sea una foto de Emma Watson como la Bella saquen maldito Disney! Que no ven que desde hace como 3 años sacaron la noticia del live-action?!?!?
Profile Image for Sylvia Mercedes.
Author 34 books1,365 followers
April 15, 2017
Continuing my Beauty and the Beast Month and that's right . . . that's right. Another five star Beauty and the Beast read. And this one COMPLETELY different from the last one, and yet equally compelling in its own way!

Beauty and the Beast Month photo NewsletterBanner_zps5ds6wu0h.jpg

Visit my website to see all of my Beauty and the Beast reads!

Though I have to say, this wasn't as much of a Beauty and the Beast retelling as I thought it would be. That is NOT a knock on the book, so don't consider it a critique! I was simply expecting more ties to the original fairytale, and if I'd known that it was really barely related to it at all, I probably wouldn't have picked OF BEAST AND BEAUTY for my Beauty and the Beast month. I also think readers need to be aware that the similarities are very, very slight . . . because if you go into this book expecting Beauty and the Beast, you might be a little disappointed.

Which is too bad, because this is an AWESOME book for being just what it is! Let me tell you why . . .


The heroine, Isra, is such a compelling protagonist. She starts out so weak that's frustrating . . . but the reasons for her weakness are understandable, so you don't dislike her. You simply feel so much more desire to see her grow and become strong. Her journey of growth is so painful, but by the end, she emerges as such a pillar of strength and hard-won wisdom that you cannot help but love her!

Gem, the hero, is likewise a well-drawn character. He's not as weak as Isra to begin with, but he has a lot of growing and changing to do to. I love that he is a tortured hero without ever feeling angsty. When you consider his situation and his motivation, the "tortured" aspect just feels like a natural result, rather than a plot device. It's surprising to me how romantic of a figure he became, too, considering how very strange looking he is! But the author makes us relate to him through his perspective, then makes us fall for him from Isra's perspective . . . and it just all works really well!

The plot . . . oh, my gosh, the plot of this book was crazy. Sometimes, I'll admit, it seemed really slow. REALLY slow. This is a thoughtful book, and much time is spent in the internal head-space of the characters. While there is plenty of action over the course of the story, it's not exactly an action-packed book. It's one you've got to stick with and read with some care. But MAN! Once I adjusted to the slower pacing, I was surprised by how completely gripping the plot was! I simply COULD NOT figure out how a happy ending would even be possible! And . . . it's not. Not entirely.

Don't get me wrong, we do end up with a HEA. But it's hard-won, let me tell you. At one point, I found myself crying so hard by a turn of events, I couldn't quite make myself keep reading for several hours. (Though I then went on to finish the rest of the book in a quick, compulsive gulp!)

Yes, this story is a heart-wringer for sure. But it's really beautiful as well.

I loved the combination of fantasy and sci-fi elements. Wasn't certain it would work together harmoniously, but it ultimately did. The world Ms. Jay created was truly unique, truly original.


Really, my only complaint (other than it not being all that much of a Beauty and the Beast story, which isn't really a complaint so much as an observation) is that it was sometimes a bit ponderous. But I'm not sure I should even call that a complaint, because everything that happened was important. If the author cut or sped up things too much, the story wouldn't have worked as well as it did.

So my only caution to potential readers is simply to go in to the book expecting it to be a little more heavy or a read than your usual romantic YA fare. But it's worth the work. I promise!

Wow, I feel so lucky with my reads so far this month. All of them have been good, and the last two have been truly great! Here's hoping the trend will continue . . .

Don't forget that at the end of the month I'll be picking my favorite read for April and offering it and at least one other book in a giveaway to one lucky mailing list subscriber. "https://www.sylviamercedesbooks.com/s... if you'd like to win a couple of awesome Beauty and the Beast books, be sure to sign up for my mailing list today!
Profile Image for ♛Tash.
223 reviews211 followers
June 30, 2015
The BatB checklist:

☑ Beauty

Isra is not the conventional Beauty. For one she is blind, but her narrative didn't really feel like she is blind. I mean dude, she rappells from her tower to the garden way below. Daredevil is the only blind person I know who can do that. Second, she wasn't a beauty, at least for the entire first 70% or so. I was under the impression that she isn't conventionally beautiful bordering on hideous, what with the reaction of the people around her. Then in the last 30%, tadaaaa, she is super beautiful after all, nobody just told her. All that self pity in the first part of the book is annoying, but she goes through major character development.

☑ Beast

Will we ever get a BatB retelling with a literal Beast? A beast that REALLY takes some getting used to look at and be with, not some hunky dude with animal body parts. Gem is like that, just you regular well-mannered handsome,with scaly snake skin, retractable claws and sharp teeth. Gem just didn't make me swoon, he is kind of bland for a male MC and Jay certainly wasn't very consistent with his characterization. He's supposed to be an experienced warrior but doesn't act like one. Then mentions being the shame of his family, but doesn't reveal why.

The romance between Isra and Gem does not qualify as insta-love, thank goodness for that. They had an ambivalent relationship at the start, they get along one minute, but then the bitterness of their people's history always rears it's ugly head. Turns out all they needed is an impromptu out-of- town trip, in the desert, without food and water, for them to finally discover the wonders of making out in the dark.

☑ Rose in a glass

Or rather a whole rose garden city in a glass dome. This, in my opinion, would've been the best feature of the book, if Jay took care to show us Yuan and the desert with more detail, but in Of Beast and Beauty's case world-building is haphazard and inconsistent.It's certainly a interesting concept to concentrate all life in domed cities while everything else outside of these cities withered and died, but Jay centers her story in Isra's tower and garden. This is I guess the limitation, if your primary 1st person narrator is blind. I have yet to read another Stacey Jay novel before I can say for certain that she needs a lesson or five in world-building from Sanderson (sorry, just had to mention him).

☑ Curse

The first few pages of the book narrates this, but we know how curses are- vague and wordy as fuck.

✖ Anthropomorphic cutlery, decor and furniture

Sorry guys, no love for you in this book

As far as BatB rettelings go, this was just so so, and god knows I have been searching for a favorite BatB story. The concept is interesting and the writing quite easy to read, but Jay fell a bit short in execution.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
August 15, 2013
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Every good fairy tale has a few critical elements. We have our heroine and our hero, their epic tale of romance, the obstacle in their way, and, most likely, there is a curse to break as well. “Beauty and the Beast” is easily the best of these fairy tale stories, far more romantic than “Snow White,” much darker than “Sleeping Beauty,” and all together more satisfying than “Cinderella”. With Of Beast and Beauty, however, Stacey Jay has managed to mix together all of the correct ingredients and just a little something more; a secret ingredient, if you will. And thus, I am finally elated to proclaim that Juliet Marillier’s Heart’s Blood is not my only favorite “Beauty and the Beast” re-telling…this one is too.

Our Heroine

Isra, the blind Queen of this tale, is unlike any protagonist I expected. For one, I love that, right from the start, Jay manages to twist this classic tale around so that it is not a woman caught in a man’s castle, but rather a man caught in a woman’s. And yet, despite being the Queen of her domed city, Yuan, Isra is powerless. In her world, Smooth Skins live in glass domes to escape both from the harsh conditions of the outside world and from the mutations that take place there, giving the people who live there the name “Monstrous.” All Isra knows is that the Monstrous are cruel and dangerous and that to live safely, every few decades a queen must willingly sacrifice her blood to the roses that bloom in the gardens and keep their dome intact.

Nevertheless, despite knowing her fate, Isra is not content to merely sit still in the tower her father has confined her in. Instead, she escapes each night to roam through her city, yearning to feel the wind on her face though she cannot and yearning even more to see. When she catches a Monstrous, Gem, in her city walls one night, Isra is terrified and curious. For all her airs and graces, at her core Isra is just a girl, one who yearns for friends and freedom. What I love about her is not that she is courageous – for she is – but rather that she is perseverant and, no matter what, refuses to go down the wrong path. Furthermore, her blindness is not the detriment most people believe it to be. It enables her to see with untainted eyes and this, this I loved. Every love story is made better by characters who look beyond appearance and not only does Isra’s blindness make her romance stronger, it also makes her bolder in her vision for a better world.

Our Hero

Gem, the “Monstrous” who breaches the city walls and winds up being Isra’s prisoner, was possibly a character I liked better than our protagonist. First and foremost, I have to mention that his narration was perfect. I love that Jay chose to add more than one point of view in this tale as it helped to see the situation at hand from both perspectives. Isra and Gem’s people have a long and estranged history. Although they both were once the same race, the new and magical land they came to sought to help them through mutations which many of the people were frightened by. Thus, seeing Gem’s perspective – his starving people, their different customs and traditions – only added to the world-building. Furthermore, I love that Gem is so unapologetically honest. When he first sees Isra, he’s there to kill her, to take her roses and food and help his people. Even as the two get to know each other, he still thinks of ways to kill her – alongside ways to help and comfort her. Jay never crosses that awkward line of insta-love and instead allows their romance to develop, right alongside their conflicted feelings. Gem, especially, is flawed and the fact that he is even more flawed than Isra at times makes him seem all the more human, despite his scaled body.

An Epic Tale of Romance

I do, actually, think this is a beautiful love story. Not only is the pacing perfect, but the reasons behind it – true understanding, not lust – are evident too. Furthermore, there is no concrete “Beauty” and “Beast” in this tale. Both Isra and Gem have their own aspects of beauty and bestiality to their personalities and the fact that either of them could fulfill those roles is utterly satisfying. And yet, what really made me fall head-over-heels for this romantic pair was the fact that their physical attraction was explored as well. Jay doesn’t hesitate to explicitly state that Gem and Isra are physically attracted to each other as well. I feel as if most literature either goes one way or the other – true comfort/understanding with a few chaste kisses or pure lust. Of Beast and Beauty manages to strike a balance between the two, however, which I appreciated. If there is a dearth of anything in fiction it is of a teenage girl acknowledging that she wants sex, so I particularly enjoyed seeing Isra approach their relationship in a light in which she felt comfortable wanting more physically and especially seeing how that empowered her in many ways.

Obstacle in their Way

Obviously, there are many hurdles for these two to cross. And yet, perhaps most taxing emotionally is the truth of their pasts. For both Gem and Isra, their union is foolish and unethical, despite how right it feels. Not only do their people hate each other, but their people would hate them if the truth emerged as well. Furthermore, Isra has a duty as Queen to at least marry before sacrificing her life for her people. I was pleasantly surprised that Bo, the man she is supposed to marry, is given his own slices of narration as well. From Bo we finally see that Yuan is more than merely a kingdom, it is a cage to all sorts of people, not just Isra. Additionally, his perspective allows us to see the true political rulers of Yuan. Isra is just a sacrificial doll at the end of the day and this only raises the stakes and heightens our bond with her.

A Curse

I won’t deny it – the original curse in “Beauty and the Beast” is a little lame. I’ve seen it employed in various ways in multiple re-tellings, which is why I love that the curse in this novel is of a different, darker nature. Granted, Isra and Gem must fall in love, but are so many deeper, subtler nuances to this as well. For one, the curse began when the first people began to build a divide between themselves – the Smooth Skins – and the Monstrous. From that initial fear and hatred grew an even scarier and more deadly curse – one that demanded blood. As the book unfolds, so does the full entirety of the curse and what it has done to both Isra’s life and Gem’s. It has affected everyone in different ways over the centuries and as the full implications of that are felt, it is shocking. One of my only qualms about this plot device is that the majority – if not all – the information about the curse is revealed in the prologue of the novel. Of course, seeing Isra discover this information and relate it to her own sheltered life is what makes the novel so intriguing, but it also manages to take away a little from the overall reading experience. Nevertheless, I have to hand it to Jay – she can build a complicated world, a complex romance, and even more twisted curse. I love it.

Of Beast and Beauty is a must-read for fans of romance, world-building, and fairy tales. As a fantasy fanatic, I loved the inclusion of magic, the unique take on this classic tale, and, most of all, this breathtaking romance. Although I’m a little skeptical to try Jay’s other works seeing the mixed reviews they’ve gotten, I am eager to see what she comes up with in the future. If it’s as brilliant as this, you can bet I’ll be clamoring after it for sure.
Profile Image for  ♥ Rebecca ♥.
1,351 reviews371 followers
October 1, 2019
This book was absolutely nothing like I expected. Even the blurb didnt give away the fact that this was a futuristic sci-fi and not a high fantasy. And it wasnt much of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, either. There was not much left of the original tale. The only similarities I saw was that their love could break a curse, but even the details of that were very different. Besides the drastic change in story and setting, one of the more major changes is the fact that there is no clear beauty and no clear beast. They were both a little beautiful and both a little beastly, and I really loved that about it. The whole point of the story is that we are all the same, we are all human in the end, regardless of the differences we see at first glance.

“Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it.”

This book wasnt the type of book that made me want to yell with excitement or made my heart race. It had a lot of darkness, but being a standalone novel, it didnt have time to dwell on it. It had to bring a resolution sooner than in a series, so I am left mostly with feelings of peace, warmth, and happiness. It was a love story, not an adventure. The setting and story itself reminded me a great deal of books such as Under the Never Sky and Cinder. But the atmosphere, feelings of peace, HEA, and the focus on the power of undying love reminds me more of For Darkness Shows the Stars.

Isra and Gem were amazing characters who had been through so much, had been put through so much by others, and still found the courage in themselves to love without reservation. They were brave, incredibly kind, and capable people whose love was real and tangible, beautiful and selfless. And it saved the world. And although that leaves me with incredible warm and fuzzy feelings, my blood is not pumping. I am not holding back any emotions that want to burst out.

"I am her monster, and she is mine. But right now none of it matters."
Profile Image for Ariana.
936 reviews1,304 followers
March 20, 2015

If you are into animation movies, then I'll easily describe this as some sort of 'Shrek' meets 'Tangled' (I don't know about you, but I loved them both!). And I won't even bother with the other end of the 'if' :p

Absolutely lovely! Why didn't I know about it sooner? 4.5 stars.


It’s not a secret that I have a crush on historical-fantasy alike stories. Ever since the Lumatere Chronicles my heart roots for this type of stories, sometimes I find something that I like, sometimes the search is in vain, but there are times like this one when I love the characters so much it hurts to say goodbye to them. It’s a beautiful feeling to be this connected to a story, to its characters. It makes me happy to get to the last word, to the last page and to want to go back to the beginning and start reading again.

The thing is, I fell in love with this world – some sort of futuristic-historical-fantasy, as crazy as that sounds. It’s mesmerising: beautiful and horrible at the same time – you know the feeling right?! .. That kind of world you would like to live in, only with the condition that you can change the bad things for the good?

What I said is true.. “Of Beast and Beauty” is a beautiful mix between historical fantasy and a bit of dystopia (if I come to think about it), there are a few SF elements in it too (or at least some hints here and there, as the action takes place in this amazing alien world); there is romance, there is this tiny connection with the original ‘Beauty And The Beast’ story, there is action, there is magic, not to mention this cute battering between the characters and the sweet forbidden romance.

Isra is a strong character.
Her place in the world has been decided a long time ago, she was to be sacrificed for the wealth of the dome, but she still had the will to go on and change the things that were in her power. Trapped under the glass walls, with her heart weighted by grieve, feeling like she was nothing to the people surrounding her, Isra found refugee in the company of her monstrous prisoner. They started to connect over stories and hard work. Soon they became friends, even though she had her secrets and he kept his very well.

His love, his faith in me, his belief that I can be as strong and brave as he is…The way he makes me feel and think and try harder than I’ve ever tried…All of it, all of him, is better than anything else.

It was great that we had Gem‘s side of the story too, at least every now and then. Being in his mind allowed us to find out more about his own history, his intentions, his quest in saving his people, and also the way he was torn between his duty and his growing feelings. Deep down he was a good guy, too good for a warrior, but goodwill can never save the people you love and he had to make his own sacrifices.

I had mixed feelings when it came to Bo. He lacked a bit of a a backbone, was too easy to manipulate and that gave me this strange feeling. His chapters were contradictory and you could sense his struggle. He didn’t know which side to take – his queen or the other people. He could have made a good king, even a good friend, if only he would have had more personality, more strength and a mind of his own.


I was not familiar with Stacey Jay, this is my first book from her, but I assure you that it won’t be the last one.
Her writing is beautiful, fluid, natural even, and her story is filled with magic and hope. I loved the balance between humour and sadness, I loved the originality of the story – and there’s no irony here.

It sounds strange in my own ears, but even though this is supposed to be a retelling, it is a completely different story: one in which the beast is trapped in beauty’s castle for a change, one in which the breaking of the curse will make for a different kind of ending.

Happy midnight reading!


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Profile Image for Kristalia .
382 reviews609 followers
March 23, 2016
Final rating: 4.5/5 stars

I had nothing left to give. I had lost everything but my voice.
And what good is a voice when so few will listen?
Will you listen, child?

I liked this book. It was a lovely retelling, with a different perspective and nice characterization.

☑ Isra's and Gem's and Needle's characters and their characterization.
☑ Passage of time. Months pass in this book.
☑ I LOVED the fact that Gem hated them all in the beginning, and even later on, and didn't falter in that until he understood that Isra is not someone he should hate. It takes quite a lot of time for him to really trust her and stop hating her. And trust me - he has a very good reason to hate anyone. Okay, what was the point of this? The point was that I loved that Gem didn't fall under Stockholm syndrome so easily. What he starts feeling for her comes in time.
☑ Three POVs! Gave a wonderful perspective.

☒ Bo's character felt inconsistent - his feelings are all over the place and his POV made me even more confused.
☒ This book would have worked much better had it been from third POV - especially for Isra's POVs considering she is blind and that I sometimes forgot that while reading from her POV.
☑ Dominance of Isra's POVs over the others - but it all blended well... but still...

If you are looking for a wonderful Beauty and the Beast retelling you will get it here. What do you have here? You have twisted garden of roses, a captured Beast, a sacrifice Beauty queen, not-really-a-douchebag Gaston and Isra's (beauty's) servant Needle.

But that is where the similarities end. The roses are dark magic that requires a sacrifice. There is no castle for the Beast - instead his own people suffer from starvation and the only way they can save themselves is to tear the remaining 3 of the 15 towns to pieces in order to restore the earth. Little do they know that the truth to repair the world lies in love.


Once upon a time, The Voice saw the ships coming on it's land. The Voice tried to help them by mutating them in order to survive in the land - made them stronger and endurable, but the people looked upon the mutation as monstrosity, and split themselves in 2 races. Monstrous and Smooth Skins. Smooths made domes and 15 cities and they split the Voice in two: Dark Heart and Pure Heart. Pure Heart wanted for people to stop listening to the Dark Heart, but failed. Dark Heart promised safety and prosperity, if the royalty gave willing sacrifices (Queens) as a food for the roses it made. Pure Heart wanted to stop this, but when Pure Heart posed as Monstrous, the Smooths drove her away, and Monstrous understood that Pure was not their own. So Pure Heart cursed them all: Monstrous will never cry again, but Smooths will be incomplete, twisted, and some of their children will be touched with monstrous traits. But Dark Heart spared those who agreed with the sacrifices. And as time passed, Pure Heart saw that things would not change, and that the world continued to die.
There is only one way to undo the curse: if even one Smooth Skin and one Monstrous can learn to love the other more than anything else—more than safety or prejudice, more than privilege or revenge, more even than their own selves—then the curse that division has brought upon our world will be broken and the planet made whole.

In the present, in the city of Yuan, the blood sacrifices are still being practiced. The current sacrifice is princess Isra - and she is aware that one day she will be dead in order for her city to live. Isra is also blind - blind from the day her mother died due to injury she suffered. And ever since she was 4 years old, she found her sight only with the roses. A little blood for them, and they would show her something. So she went into the garden of the roses. But she was not alone.

They say they feel watched here, as if the roses have eyes.
They have no idea.
The roses have more magic than anyone, even my father, understands. I am the only one who knows their secret, who knows that they are more alive than other flowers, that they see and hear more than anything else on our world.

A Monstrous is hiding in the garden - Gem, as is his name, had only one mission. Get the roses and return to their home. They know that roses are a reason for the prosperity. And his people - the Desert people - are dying from starvation. He and his family entered Yuan by digging the tunnel, but when Isra noticed him because of the roses, she raised the alarm.

“Do it! Kill me!”
Her words make my blood burn. “You’re so ready to die?” I demand in her language. “My people would do
anything to live. Anything.”

But in the end, because he hesitated, the guards speared his legs, and he became unable to run. He failed, and the only thing that kept him alive is Isra insisting that his claws had poison in them (as was believed by Smooths) and that he can help her stay alive. But there is no poison, and Isra doesn't know that.

Red for the blood that’s been spilled.
Blue for the sky I’ll never see again.
Green for her eyes.
Her eyes …
They are the last thing I see before black sweeps in, stealing all the colors, all my hope, away.

In the meantime, The King was found dead and Monstrous were to blame. And Gem's father and brother were captured, and later released by Isra by leaving Gem in their captivity - as a gesture of a good faith. Isra believes that they might not be as savage as they thought and that there could peace.

The only one they have now is Gem... whose family told Isra that Gem knows a way to make medicine against random mutations they suffer. Which is a lie, but it gave Gem time to get the roses - even if it means months in captivity. At first, they don't get along - they are on each others necks, and it's not pretty.

Yet they hold all the power. They hold me prisoner. Their ruler smiles as she speaks of my people’s hunger; their queen runs her hands over my face and tightens her fingers at my throat, and I must lie here and do nothing.
I smear the tears on my chest away, but some have already soaked into my skin. I can feel them, as if she has marked me, infected me with Smooth Skin weakness.
“Get out,” I growl, hatred burning in my belly.
“Not yet. I have—”
“Quiet, or you’ll wake the guards,” she hisses, her own hatred flashing in her eyes. “You don’t tell me what to do. Junjie and the other advisors tell me, but you do not. Your own father left you here. Forever. For the rest of your life, you are mine. If you’d prefer that life to be a long one, you’ll do what I say, when I say it.”
“I’ll cut you open,” I snarl through gritted teeth.
“You’ll do no such thing.” She doesn’t flinch, or move away from the bed. “If you were going to kill me, you’d have done it already.”
“I nearly did.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Do you believe these?” My claws are at her neck a second later, the tips puckering the skin at either side. Her lips part and a strangled sound gurgles in her chest, but she doesn’t move. She has realized that the slightest twitch will open her throat. “You seem curious about what will happen when you die,” I whisper. “Maybe it’s time for your curiosity to be satisfied.”
She sips air, swallowing like a three-hooved gert picking its way down the rocky slope of a canyon. I tighten my grip. The five puckers on her throat deepen. A little more pressure, and her blood will flow. I tell myself it will be justice, but I’m not thinking about justice. I’m thinking about the way she stuck her nose in the air when she told me I’d do as she says. I’m thinking that I prefer fear in her eyes to any other emotion I’ve seen.
I’m thinking I would rather be a monster than her slave.

And with time, a long time, they realize that things are not how they seem, that nothing is as it seems, and that they are not so different, even if they look so.

And then there is how each of them see the other race:

Our only hope is to keep the mutants out. If they make it inside, the city will fall. If we’ve learned anything from the destruction of the other domed kingdoms, it should be that. The Monstrous are bigger, stronger, with poison seeping from their claws, and skin as thick and hard as armor. They can see in the dark and live on nothing but a daily ration of water and cactus fruit. They are brutal beasts determined to destroy humanity and take our cities for themselves.- Isra

This isn’t the way. No women or children. We’re not like the Smooth Skins. They are as soulless as a sandstorm. We are better. We know the power of transformation. This planet has changed us, but its magic is good magic. It would be enough to sustain us all if the Smooth Skins hadn’t twisted it to serve their unnatural purposes.
They are the murderers. Their domed cities rob the surrounding lands of vitality. Their prosperity is paid for by the slow death of the desert, and if something doesn’t change, it will lead to the extinction of my people. This raid isn’t about killing Smooth Skins; it’s about keeping them from killing any more of us.
- Gem


Isra (17 years) knows that she has limited time. She is blind, but that is not the only problem. She is convinced that she is tainted by monstrous traits, and that that is why her people don't want her. She knows that if she wasn't a queen, she would have been thrown away with other Banished people (with monstrous traits). But that's not even worst of it. She has been locked away for so long, her only comfort Needle and the garden of roses. People always controlled her life, but acted as if she was also mentally unstable and weak.
My people are horrified by their queen. Yuan has never had a tainted ruler. I am the first, the contemptible offspring of the king’s mad second wife. Her insanity almost cost the people their lives, and now her tainted daughter sullies their throne.
I’m sure they’re all praying I will die before having children of my own. As long as I’m married, the covenant will be secure. My king will be able to remarry, and the poor noble girl forced to wed him will take on the mantle of sacrifice.
Sacrifice. Blood and bones. That’s all I am.

And when she found out her father was killed by Monstrous, she begins her cruelty to Gem... until she realizes that he is as human as she is - that he can be hurt, that their people are not savages and that he may be telling her the truth. After a while, she starts finding comfort in Gem, who keeps telling her that she should stand up for herself, screw the rules, screw everything, because she is their ruler and people should listen to her. She is also precious - her POV made me smile - like with: "Scuff, scuff, scuff, scuff. I am a soldier, this is my song, and I shall scuff it all the day long. I am a soldier and these are my boots, the biggest shoes for the biggest brutes.My lip curls. Soldiers. Ridiculous." She is just so cute. And meeting Gem makes her understand that her society is indeed wrong - that they are more more monstrous than the ones they call such.

Yesterday, there was no doubt in my mind which one of us was the monster, but now …
I’m the one who neglected to ask his name. I’m the one who insisted he be pulled from his bed without consulting the healers to make sure he was fit to work. I’m the one who has treated him like an animal when I know that he has language and at least a certain degree of intelligence.
The thoughts make me feel sour inside. They make me wish I could have a moment alone with Gem to speak frankly. I want him to know that I understand what it’s like to be a prisoner. That I know what it’s like to walk a road I didn’t choose to a destination I fear, and that I will do my best to make his life in Yuan tolerable.


No matter how well we’ve been getting along, or how much more human Gem is than I could have dreamed a Monstrous would be, it was stupid to start confessing things to him. He’s not my friend; he’s my prisoner.


I’m filled with a sudden longing for Gem. Only with him is it safe to be the ugly thing I am. He’s the only one I can talk to, the only one who tells me anything close to the truth.

Also, I will never see Pelican Beak the same way again.... (lol)

Gem (19) is angry - his people are dying, his newly born son may die, he risked everything he ever had on this mission and he failed.
“Wait!” the girl screams. “Take it alive! Don’t kill it!”
I am not an it. I am a Desert Man. I have nineteen years. I have a son. I might have had a mate if there were no Yuan, no tunnel to dig, no scouting missions to take me away from my tribe over and over again. But Meer chose a different mate, and my son sleeps in another family’s hut. Now my son will die and be burned without ever knowing my face. Because of them!

He spends weeks behind the bars, in delirium and in pain. Even worse is the fact that they treat him like an animal, as an it not he and that his family abandoned him. And Isra is no better. But the little advantage they gave him earned him just a little bit of freedom to move. And so, Gem is forced to swallow his hate and work with Isra in the garden while constantly being watched by the others, and shackled so he can't escape. And he hates them, even Isra, for smiling when they met when she told him his people would continue to starve, he hates her, because she could change things, but she doesn't do anything. But then, he understood the only way he can get what he wants is to manipulate, lie and deceive. Manipulate Isra into becoming his friend, his ally, by telling her the stories of his people - which began their bond. But after a while, he starts to realize that he doesn't need to keep acting anymore. That Isra is the only one worth saving. Worth anything.

Gem doesn't look exactly like a beast - he has scales, fangs and claws and is actually a lot like a human.

“You seem like a clever beast,” she says, fitting the key in the lock. “I’m sure you’ll understand. Sooner or later.”
I am not a beast. I swallow the cry pushing at my lips. It would do no good to tell her. I must show her. Tomorrow I will begin, I think as she slips out the door as swiftly and silently as a tear down a Smooth Skin’s cheek.
Tomorrow, I will serve and obey. I will be on my very best behavior. I will use only Yuan words and keep my claws sheathed. But tonight I will close my eyes and pretend I am not her prisoner.


I want to go home. I want to be back with people I know, in a world I understand. I’m sick to death of this upside-down place, where I crave the touch of a girl who holds me prisoner, and every other word I speak is a lie. Half the time I can’t even tell who I’m lying to. Her or myself.


It’s pointless. Hopeless. Even if she weren’t afraid of me, at the core we’ll always be enemies. She rules a wicked, selfish city, and my tribe suffers for her people’s comfort. She’s a queen; I’m her prisoner. I resent her and she fears me, and there are times when I fear her, too. I am her monster, and she is mine.

Bo is the son of her father's advisor. He also goes from woman and woman and sleeps with them without hesitation (ugh, respect -50) He and his father Junjie plot to make Isra Bo's queen - because Junjie is the most respected man in Yuan and Bo is fitting candidate. So he tries his "best" to be kind to her (instead, he treats her as if she is not only blind, but mentally unstable, and that he would be doing her a favor and would be a fitting and kind husband.) There are no feelings of love on his side - he believes what he is doing is right and that there is nothing to discuss about their future relationship. But all he wants is absolute control over her - dominance, ownership, whatever he can do.

Junjie is a man with an ambition. With the King dead and princess ready for marriage, he will stop at nothing but marrying off his son to her. No matter what.

Needle is Isra's mute maid. But Needle and Isra developed a language they can understand and Needle is always supportive, willing to help and cover for Isra whenever she needs to. Isra feels sad that Needle has to take care of her, but she appreciates it, as Needle is the only true friend she had.


Don't worry, the love triangle here is almost none existent. Even though it seems like it, it's well done and I appreciated it. There is also a slow burn romance, also quite believable, which I also enjoyed. There was no insta-lust, only insta-hate developing slowly to friends, then to love.

Story is well done, fast paced, world building is nice, I wish there was more to the Desert People though (there was enough, but I needed more), but still well done. And the epilogue was wonderful!

You know what I loved the most? I loved how complex Isra is. I loved how she developed through the book and started making her own choices. I also loved Gem because he didn't give up on his people, even for love, but how he realized that sometimes words can be enough to help someone else - that sometimes you need words to make someone see the truth about themselves. And I loved how and what I loved the most was that little twist at the end (is it little though?).

I was also surprised with the revelation about the .


I will show her that loving her is my greatest truth, and the most beautiful thing I have ever known.


“Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it.”


I believe Isra and I can change our worlds. Together. If we are brave.


“I would have,” he continues. “If I’d known. I swear I would have.”
“Told me what?” I let my fingers play along the scales at the back of his neck, mesmerized by their smoothness.
He looks down, catching my eyes, the emotion in his making my heart beat faster. “I would have told you that you’re beautiful.”

Standalone: Yes
Point of View: First POV, 3 characters.
Triggers: the use of roses requires a bit of self-harm (poking oneself on roses)
Love triangle: Low
Angst: Yes
Supernatural: Yes
Explicit content: No
Ending type:
Recommended: Yes
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,991 reviews363 followers
February 12, 2016
Beauty and the Beast is by far my most favorite childhood fairy tale. Who didn't love the beautiful brown eyed girl who love to read and had a heart of gold?

Being a brown eyed bookworm myself, she was the princess I related to the most. And who wouldn't want to marry a handsome prince?

Being a lover of both the Beauty and the Beast fairytale and of re-tellings, I couldn't resist Stacye Jay's spin on the classic tale. Already loving her spin on the classic Romeo and Juliet in her Juliet Immortal series, I just knew I would be in for a treat and a tale that would be darker and definitely one that would keep me on my toes.

I was not disappointed in the least.

Told in three point of views of Isra, Gem, and Bo, this was done beautifully.

With a fantasy world that was easy to envision and a cast of character reminiscent of the fairytale this was a fun take on the classic and something I easily and quickly devoured.

Jay's writing continues to enchant me and I will pick up anything she writes in the future. I just love her twisted take and darker versions of stories that almost have a new like feel and appeal to them. This was another winner for me and after having this one in my TBR pile for nearly three years, I'm glad I finally read and loved.
Profile Image for TJ.
977 reviews118 followers
March 31, 2016

Why this book?
Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairytale

What I thought
Beauty and the Beast has always been my favorite fairytale. So I knew I had to give this one a try. This was the most unique retelling of Beauty and the Beast I've read, and I've read many. It was captivating and beautifully written. The emotions in this book were palpable and it just grabs you. Gem's and Isra's relationship was so complicated and yet so well written it leaves you wanting more. Some parts of this book was slow, and some parts went by too fast, but all I know is that I wanted to sink all of it in. A beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast.
758 reviews2,350 followers
Want to read
April 20, 2017
I was going to read this but then started doing math problems instead, who am i anymore 🙃🙃🙃
Profile Image for Dawne.
Author 2 books5 followers
February 12, 2017
"The summer star split down the middle, leaving two stars in its place.
One was white and pale as Queen Isra's skin when she was a girl, the other a luminous orange like King Gem's scales when he sat before the fire. They were celebrated and named Beauty and the Beast, but none of the King or queens people would ever say which star was which. They would only look kindly on the stranger who'd asked and say, 'Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it.'"

Guys this book gave me so many feels once again. Gem and Isra are an adorable couple and I will forever ship them for as long as o live.
"And what good is a voice when so few will listen?"

"This girl wouldn't run thought the garden laughing like a child. The death of her father cut that part of her away and left her bleeding inside where wounds hurt the most."

"Don't forget me," I whisper. "Please. Don't forget."
"I'll come back," he says. "If I have to drag my body across the desert. I swear it. On my life."

I loved Needle. She was the mother figure that Isra needed and I just loves her character so much. When the part where someone had slapped her, I nearly lost it. DONT TOUCH MY GIRL! <3

"Her face is streaked with tears, and one cheek bears an ugly red handprint."

"Love. The secret is love."

Truly a wonderful book. Probably one of my favourite Beauty and the Beast retellings. <3
Profile Image for Jo ★The Book Sloth★.
485 reviews423 followers
July 15, 2014

IN the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret. The secret was as old as the cracked cobblestone streets of Yuan, as peculiar as the roses that bloom eternally within the domed city’s walls, as poisonous as forgotten history and the stories told in its place.

Of Beast and Beauty isn't a book full of sunshine. It is a dark book, a scary fairytale. It has little resemblance to Beauty and the Beast, but that was ok. This book was beautiful in its uniqueness. It was a book that reminded me why I love reading. Today I had a conversation here in GRs were I stated that books don't excite me as much any more. I should have held on to that comment. This book made me cry but it also made me smile. This is exactly the kind of story I will remember.

The story is dark but it also has light in it. Isra is a girl raised to believe she has no future. That she should be proud that she will have to sacrifice herself for the prosperity of her people. She is blind and slightly damaged.

Gem is a boy, a man almost, raised to become a warrior. Raised to fight for his people. Raised to do anything to ensure their survival.When the time comes he will go to an almost certain deadly mission to help his tribe.

Isra is the Princess of Yuan. When the time comes she has to die for her city to survive. She has long ago accepted her fate. But then one day Gem is captured. A Monstrous boy who isn't a monster at all. He makes her question everything she has been told. How can a city build in blood and despair, founded with tears and misery be healthy? Is it really something she should fight for?

The world building was very interesting in this fairytale. We are in an alternative Universe, possibly many years into the future. The planet has gone under many changes. There are places of prosperity, cities enclosed in glass domes that have plenty of food and water for their people but they can't support everyone. Outside the domes live tribes of people who are mutated in order to survive the hard desserts. The people in the domes believe them to be monsters. The tribes believe the city people to be cruel.

The shock for Isra comes when she finally realises that the reason she would have sacrificed herself is void. That the dome is even more cursed than the "barbaric" Monstrous tribes outside of it. That during her protected, blind existence she always saw just the beautiful side of the city. That there are places in the dome that don't prosper but are full of pain. Will she be able to undo the curse and make her people and the Monstrous whole?

There is only one way to undo the curse: if even one Smooth Skin and one Monstrous can learn to love the other more than anything else—more than safety or prejudice, more than privilege or revenge, more even than their own selves—then the curse that division has brought upon our world will be broken and the planet made whole.

Isra's and Gem's lives aren't pretty. Their course during the book isn't easy. I am not ashamed to say that I cried several times while reading this amazing book. I cried for them and for everyone else. It's been some time since I found myself so much unable to describe my feelings about a book but now I find that anything that comes to mind is insufficient.

Isra and Gem grow so much during the book. At first we see a slightly naive and very protected Isra. Someone willing to believe everything she has been told. But as time passes Isra's eyes are opened(both literally and metaphorically). She and Gem overcome centuries of prejudice and lies and manage to fall in love despite their diferences. They won't manage to sway almost anyone to the truth. They will try and they will fail because their people don't know any better. Isra will be thought mad, Gem a traitor. But in the end they know better than to give up.

“I will show her that loving her is my greatest truth, and the most beautiful thing I have ever known. ” — Gem”

“His love, his faith in me, his belief that I can be as strong and brave as he is...The way he makes me feel and think and try harder than I've ever tried...All of it, all of him, is better than anything else.” -Isra

Another huge plus to the book was the writing. It was beautifully done. It was poetic but never overwhelming. You just wanted to read some more, and more, and more. I think the writing would have kept me captivated even if the story wasn't so unique.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,726 followers
December 30, 2014
Amazing Buddy Read with Chelsea, Jen, Laura, Kat Stark, Sarah, Jenny, Harriet, Portia, Destini Mia, Maria & Elena for ❦ Chelsea's birthday ❦.

Joyeux anniversaire en avance ma belle!!

This gonna be short, sorry. Because Ash's waiting for me. I might re-write a proper review later.

Rating clarification : 3.5/5

The girl's misery and rage slipped away, and the secret sank like a stone,
inside her, until the truth was as forgotten as hope and beauty and all the other things given to the darkness.

First I have to stress the fact that this book was a real and inalterable page turner for me. Beauty and the Beast's always been my favorite (I mean, beast guys!) as I feel captivated by almost all the retellings I read and you know what? This one was no exception. Yet this book isn't flawless and while I found myself pleasantly surprised by some twists and fell in love with the writing which is smooth and beautiful I couldn't bring myself to be completely involved by the characters' love story, you know?

Don't be fooled, I'm not saying that the characterization was bad : it was, in fact, the opposite. The characters we meet are multi-layered and feel realistic - their emotions, their struggles feel real. Despite the fact I had a hard time connecting with their love story, I can't hide that they were incredible characters.

Sometimes I really liked Isra, and other times I was just shaking my head in disbelief at some of her thoughts. She's so full of insecurities - but who wouldn't, in her shoes, who? Moreover, she made me laugh so much sometimes with her childish way to picture relationships I can't help but have affection for her.

A few words about Gem now : I love the fact he's a beast but not a beast and his personality is so complicated and tortured at some point - wow. He was such a captivating character, never bi-dimensional and I must admit that following his thoughts was by far what fascinated me the most.

Overall, the fact that this book brings the reader to think about the Beauty within and the Beauty without kept my interest from the beginning to the end : what's being a beast and what's being beautiful is at the heart of every Beauty and the Beast's retelling and in this book I found it really well executed.

However, I'd have loved that the plot were more developed because I think there are great ideas (all the dome thing, the curse, the desert people) but the romance wins the shows and that's okay because duh, that's a retelling of Beauty & the Beast. So I feel I should have been happy and utterly satisfied but I was not as I didn't feel enough chemistry between the characters (except at some occasions).

"I should do it. I will do it.
My heart races. Faster, faster, until I hear it rushing in my ears. Faster, until sweat beads on my lip and my scales move farther apart to accomodate the heat building inside me. Faster, until my teeth ache and my brain pulses and colors swim through the night air.
Red for the blood that's been spilled.
Blue for the sky I'll never see again.
Green for her eyes."

Don't listen to me too much though : I'm such enthralled by the Iron King world that my opinion could be biased : I mean, hey, when you're in love with characters, that's really difficult to disconnect and to be fully interested in others. That's my case anyway.

Profile Image for Cara.
280 reviews699 followers
March 13, 2015
From my own scientific research with extensive Excel spreadsheets (ok not really, but from my equally impressive informal observations), I have come to the conclusion that behind Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast is the most retold fairy tale. And it’s for a good reason. There is something so alluring about breaking a curse with true love.

This retelling takes some liberties from the original tale. While there is the curse, captivity, and a beauty and beast (kind of), this is set, from what I can gather, in another planet humans inhabit. There are complications when humans come to this planet though. Some humans mutate to become Monstrous to survive this new land and the others remain Smooth skins, but there is a price for this. A price paid in blood. Isra is a princess of one of the Domed Cities, Yuan. The tradition is the Queen must sacrifice her life to the roses so the city can continue to enjoy their bounty. Isra knows that someday this may be her fate. She lives a quiet and sheltered existence since she became blind the same night her mother died. On one of the nights she sneaks out to visit the roses she stumbles upon a Monstrous named Gem. Gem’s mission is to get the roses and go back to his people but can’t seem to kill Isra like he knows he should. Against everyone’s insistence on killing the beast, Isra decides to hold him prisoner instead. Hence, our story begins!

I loved almost everything about this story. The tone, pacing, world, plot, beautiful writing, characters, romance so yeah practically everything. One of the aspects I loved the most was how the line between the beauty and the beast is blurred. Is Gem really the beast here? Or is Isra? And what does being a beauty or beast really mean? And why do I always ask so many questions!?!?! But I digress. Isra and Gem kind of hate each other from the beginning. They each carry many years of hate that their people have for each other. The prejudices are strong on both sides, so it seems it won’t be possible for these two to see each other than enemies. These two, goodness they really tugged at my heartstrings. They were perfect for each other. I also appreciated the exploration of why people on each side felt they were justified in their views and how the nuggets of truth, which prejudices are often based on, grow into something incomprehensible when hate is involved.

From the summary I gave it sounds like a simple plot but there is a lot to the story I won’t go into, but the author wrote all facets of the story like an expert. Political nonsense makes an appearance in the story. Nothing too complicated but we do have the court that is trying their best to keep Isra from doing anything resembling knowing or doing something useful, and it’s difficult for Isra to overcome her feelings of inadequacy to do what she needs to do. This inner struggle is a big part of the story and could be frustrating, but I felt Isra’s growth was done beautifully.

During the last 3/4ths of the book I was literally hunching over the book. My eyes scanning the pages ahead. To say I was utterly engrossed would be an understatement.

All this is coming from a person who almost cannot not like a retelling, so I know this book won’t be for everyone. But if you are looking for an epic love story done right, I believe you can stop your search.

Read for POPSUGAR CHALLENGE 2015: A book by an author you've never read before
Profile Image for Alissa.
604 reviews84 followers
March 27, 2017
Maybe the mind of the majority is always the healthy mind, simply by virtue of its numbers. Maybe it’s the definition of madness to believe I’m right and everyone else is wrong, to find my thoughts rational and reasonable when almost the entire world finds them damaged and flawed.
Profile Image for Rebekah.
739 reviews955 followers
March 8, 2016
Original review found http://www.awesomebooknut.com


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
Language: mild
Violence: mild
Drugs/Alcohol: mild
Profile Image for Elena.
569 reviews180 followers
September 11, 2016
Buddyread this book with all of these wonderful ladies: Chelsea, Laura,Jen , Anna, Kat Stark, Sarah, Jenny, Harriet, Portia, Destini Mia and Maria :)

I truly enjoyed Of Beast and Beauty! I was sucked in right at the beginning. The world and the characters seemed strange, out of this world even. Something I had to get used to but intrigued me nonetheless!

It is kind of a reversed Beauty & the Beast retelling. Gem, who is our ''beast'', becomes Isra's prisoner. Which means: they HATE each other.
Hate that grows to love, is always something I ADORE in books!

''I stretch and smile and run. And run and run and run.
It's safe for a blind girl to run here.''

Isra is our main protagonist and the blind Princess of Yuan. Yup. BLIND! Honestly, that was something that truly made me want to read this book! I've never read about a blind character and I think it's interesting to read from someone's perspective who sadly can't see.
But this is not the only thing, that made Isra stand out from YA protagonists. She was hidden her whole life, didn't really have contact to anybody. Her maid is mute and the only other person Isra talked to was her father. So, naturally, she was kind of strange.

''It's too late for kindness. No amount of kindness can change who she is or what her people have done to mine.''

This book is not only written from Isra's POV but also from Gem's, a mutant beast. (And another really shitty person I'm not going to talk about :P)
Gem is fighting for his people, who are called Monstrous, and when one day he tries to steal Roses (not just any roses, obviously) from the Palace's garden he gets captured and becomes Isra's prisoner.
They truly hate each other, but when someday Isra needs Gem's help, they get to know and deal with each other.
My favourite part of this book would have to be their relationship! I just loved how they truly hated each other and then with each passing day, they realized, that the other one isn't how he seemed to be.

While I had a couple of issues with it I still enjoyed the book to no end! It was a quick and great read and I definitely need to read more by Stacey Jay!
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.1k followers
June 29, 2015
I just never managed to get into this book. DNF at 50%
Profile Image for Andrew (BritBookBoy).
91 reviews217 followers
December 29, 2014
"Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it."

I’m such a sap for fairytale retellings and this book gave me everything I want from one. Stacey Jay managed to maintain enough of the original’s iconic moments and plotlines, while serving something fresh, inventive and beautiful. While I don’t usually like to compare, this was the exact type of story I was looking for in Rosamund Pike’s Cruel Beauty, but was unable to find.

Told in dual perspective (with a very minor third perspective appearing now and then), it follows the story of Isra, the Princess of Yuan and Gem, a mutated man from one of the ‘Monstrous’ tribes in the surrounding desert. Isra’s life ticks by under the protection of the domed city of Yuan that prospers thanks to the sacrifice of a Yuan Queen every few decades to feed the magic that lurks beneath. Meanwhile, Gem and his tribe battle through every day to survive out in the harsh and desecrated landscape the magic has neglected to care for. Each faction blames the other for their planet’s demise. Once Isra and Gem’s worlds collide, however, everything their people have known for centuries begins to crumble.

It was hard not to route for the romance in this when you throw a blind and supposedly mentally incapacitated princess of soft skin “Beauty”, and a mutated, Monstrous “Beast” from warring human factions together. The build up and struggle of the characters in dealing with how they feel for each other was superbly captured, and one of the reasons I liked it so much.

The distinction between Beauty and Beast is fairly apparent in most versions of the story, what I really enjoyed about this reinvention was how much the author blurred the lines between the two. What exactly makes a person beastly, while making another beautiful? In this book it’s all a matter of perception, often perceptions that have been ill taught and stand on a foundation of lies. Seeing those foundations fall away was thrilling.

There was strong characterisation, interesting world building, lyrical writing, and an effective and well earned romance (no insta-love here!). That’s enough for it to score a solid 4 stars.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,694 reviews856 followers
April 20, 2016
It seems that every time I read a book worthy of five stars I write the same sentence to start my reviews: People say that bad reviews are the hardest to write, but I find it impossible to review my favourite books and do them justice. And once again, I have to agree with myself. If the words could exist to explain to you just how much this book effected me emotionally, I would pour them onto this page without hesitation - so you could understand, so you would go out and pick up this book right at this moment. But alas, I'm not so clever. I am not a wordsmith (even if I like to think I am at times!), and I doubt I'll ever be able to truly do this book justice. Just do me a favour and give it a go. Please.

If you're anything like me then Isra and Gem's story will break your soul and melt your heart and make you cry and scream and swoon and want to fly and all those amazing, crazy, wonderful feels. It will eat you up and spit you out, but you'll be grateful for it. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this story since I finished it, and I don't want to. The writing took me to another place, and my God, do I want to go back. If you love stories that are gorgeous and heart-breaking and engaging all at the same time then please give this a go.
Profile Image for summer.
248 reviews300 followers
December 26, 2014
Oh, how refreshing it is to read a YA fantasy novel that is not part of a series.

How invigorating it is to read of a fairytale that stays faithful to the original while deviating from the standard to create a world that is incomparable in characters and prose.

Recently, I read a novel based on Beauty and the Beast--Cruel Beauty, by Rosamond Hodge (here is ze review) and while I do admit it was quite good, albeit peculiar, it didn't wow me as much as I'd hoped it would. That cannot be said of Jay's novel. I went in with fairly average expectations and finished with bittersweet tears streaming down my face. To say I was wowed does little justice to the novel.

What did I read? I read a novel that was authentic and deep, romantic and heart-breaking. It was equal parts hopeful and crushingly bleak--perfect for an emotional masochist like me. I hate sounding vague but attempting to expand my thoughts is fruitless when it comes to Of Beast and Beauty; I am utterly tongue-tied.
Profile Image for Cee (The Mistress Case).
253 reviews161 followers
June 4, 2015
Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it.

A Blind Beauty.

A Humane Beast.

Our beast Gem isn’t cursed, selfish, or ugly.

Our beauty Isra isn’t loved, pure, or untouchable.

As a matter of fact, Isra and Gem practically have death sentences hanging over their heads.

My life grows shorter than the rose on the royal roses.

These characters’ journey is heartwarming and raw with emotions of anger, hatred, doubt, pity, fear and . . . lust. I fucking love it.

However, as much as I love that their love story underlines the importance of perception (“beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” you get what I mean?) and what is beautiful and ugly, what is good and evil, what is truth and lie; the morals aren’t enough to win me over.

At first, Of Beast and Beauty fulfilled my love for fairytale retellings, but as soon I ventured into the second half, it became a book I wanted to end after I realized how painfully obvious the author is. The story is quite predictable from the circumstances of the King’s death to Isra’s mutation to the Puppet Master. Also, I’m disappointed with the way secrets and truths are unfolded. Not only is it disorderly, but it’s rather lazy.

For example: When Isra dreams about Queen Ana, it’s more tell than show. Out of nowhere, Isra learns where Ana’s hidden diary is through a dream she once had. Then time passes. The audience is told about Isra’s dreams for the previous months. We quickly learned a bit more about the past. Then without further ado, Ana easily led Isra to the hidden convent and she learns the not shocking truth truth about the sacrifices.

It’s just— unsatisfying and unchallenging— for both the main character and the readers. Supposedly, Ana had tried to communicate with the queens for hundreds of years and failed miserably until Isra and it just boggles me that there’s nothing inspiring about the “rich” history and Ana’s convenient role in all of this.

Another example: As much as I agree with the story’s realistic approach on lust, I find the romance/love to be rushed. Once again, Stacey jumps the time line and tells of the interactions between Isra and Gem, instead of building the relationship to that point.

To be truthfully honest, I ended up skimming the last few chapters. If the second half of book had been challenging and complex instead of having Isra sit around for her fate to come to her, I would have liked the story better. By this time, I didn't even care about the romance anymore and I wanted Isra to die. Stacey Jay should have delivered an unhappy ending for both Isra and Gem after they "saved" the planet. It's like she couldn't go through with it the last minute. What's more? She throws all these hardships the characters' way to make the readers pity them and she kills off characters so she wouldn't have to deal with them because they have no further use. Just like

Well . . . unless you consider

Whatever. This is my perception of the book. Other readers may think differently— that the deaths occurred in order to keep the characters hopeless, that the hardships are supposed to be overcome so the characters can get stronger, that love conquers all in the end, blah di blah. Anyways, I would definitely recommend Of Beast and Beauty.

I was certain the book would be 4 stars, but 3 stars will have to do :)

More of my reviews can be found at The Mistress Case.
Profile Image for ❤Ninja Bunneh❤.
263 reviews174 followers
March 1, 2014
I have a confession to make. I adore all things Disney. If I pass a Disney Store, I must venture inside. If a new Disney movie comes out, I must go and watch it. It's a weakness, but I regret NOTHING. My absolute favorite movie from Disney, watched more than a two dozen times over more than a dozen years is Beauty and the Beast.

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If you're about to run and grab Of Beast and Beauty, thinking it's a sweet fairy tale full of rainbows and unicorns, don't. It has the feel of the enchanted movie, but is a story all its own.

"My new body dying and my hopes for peace shattered, I gathered the last of my magic and sent a curse sweeping across the world."

The curse isn't what you think. Of Beast and Beauty twists the Beauty and the Beast story in new ways, gives it a bit more darkness, and throws in unexpected things along the way.

It does ask the age old question. Can true love save what is lost, repair what is broken, heal what is damaged? I leave you to read the book and find out.

"Beauty is wherever you find it, and Beast is there when you need to defend it."

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To those who still have an inner child that whispers their ear to make a wish when blowing out birthday candles. One that makes you still wonder what could be up there when gazing at the stars. One that allows you to still believe in fairy tales and dream of happily ever afters. If that child still lives inside you, however quiet he or she may be at times, this book is for you.

4.5 ninja bunnehs throwing rose petals stars

Profile Image for Lili.
446 reviews49 followers
June 22, 2013
I think that writing a coherent review currently is impossible. It’s been a really long time since a book made my heart speed up, my breathing shallow because I was so engrossed. It’s been a really long time since I thought that a writer’s writing style is really beautiful and went out of my way to tell others that. It’s just been a while since a book managed to truly blow me away and make me love it so much. OF BEAST AND BEAUTY, the first book I’ve ever read by Stacey Jay, managed to do all that and more. I can already tell that this book will stick with me for a while.

The intricacies of this new world was fascinating. They easily engross you and hold you captive throughout the duration of the book--making it an incredibly quick and enjoyable read. It’s set in a dying world where domed cities must make royal sacrifices every thirty years in order to ensure the continual thriving of their people. Isra, the blind future Queen of Yuan, is set to be the next sacrifice to allow her people to continue to live. The domes are necessary to cut the citizens off from the evils of the outside world and the disfigured race that lives in the desert. The Monstrous are beastly people with poisonous claws and they must be feared, but when they break into Yuan and one of them murders the King, everything spirals out of control. They leave a single Monstrous prisoner behind named Gem in order to ensure peace between the two races, but he is unwelcome by all except Isra who is strangely fascinated by her new prisoner and eventual friend. A lot of the amazing world-building was displayed through personal anecdotes and the telling of old legends from both races, and I found this to be a welcome, unique touch that kept my interest without having to info-dump. This also allowed the mystery of Yuan to be unraveled in a really unique way that left me flipping pages as fast as I could.

I think the strongest point of this story was the characterization. Both Gem and Isra live in two completely different yet equally dying worlds, and they both will do anything required to save those they love. But, in the end, they both have the biggest hearts of gold. They can plan to do terrible things but never follow through with it. They’re both just so good, and I truly truly loved that. Isra never allowed her blindness to hinder her. In fact, it just made her stronger. And Gem was proud of who he was, even if the Smooth-Skinned people that Isra ruled believed he was disgusting. His form was beautiful and his people were beautiful. In his eyes, everything somehow was beautiful. I liked the hidden messages that such a thought process shared. And I also loved the side characters, especially Needle, Isra’s loyal maid, best friend, and dress-maker despite being born mute. Bo was a unique side character as well, often warring with himself about what is right since he tended to simply feel for so many people. He had a good heart, he just didn’t know how to manage everything. This book is told in the altering perspectives of Gem and Isra, with a few chapters in Bo’s perspective thrown in. I normally would think his perspective was completely unnecessary, but he added a lot of back-plot to the story and summed up all questionable plot lines. Although, I have to admit, while I enjoyed his voice I did not love it nearly as much as I loved Gem and Isra’s.

And, while this book has so much more to it, it’s still a BEAUTY AND THE BEAST re-telling at its heart, meaning that the romance is important. And, damn, can I say that I love love and this love story. It was slow-going and passionate all at once--the way a love story should be. And the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST interpretation was great. It added all the more meaning to the words “beastly” and “beautiful” and made me smile endlessly while reading the epilogue--an epilogue so sweet and perfect that I never wanted it to end. While I couldn’t have asked for a better story, I was saddened to turn to the last blank page because I grew so attached to Isra and Gem. Even now, I don’t want to leave them behind just yet.

I don’t know what else to say about this one aside from the fact that it blew me away entirely. I can’t think of a single piece of criticism because I did love it so much. I recommend this book to anyone willing to read it. Those who love fantasy re-tellings, those who love an amazing romance, those who love something different and unique or a book littered with fascinating political intrigue and dark unknowns lurking beneath the surface. This is a book that could be universally loved and I truly hope anyone who picks it up will love it as much as I did. To put it simply, this book is a must read of 2013, no questions asked.
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,040 followers
May 2, 2015
Oh my god.

Oh my GOD.

Okay, I've seen many a Beauty and the Beast adaptations in one lifetime, but I've never come across one this unique. I loved every minute of this book. The writing? Gorgeous. The story? I wanted to drown in it. The romance? Heartfelt and believable. Sure there might have been a touch of cheese with the whole "power of love" thing, but at the end of the day, isn't that what Beauty and the Beast is all about?

To quote Rainbow Dash, "Darn it! Now you got ME actin' all sappy!"

Still. I adored this book to pieces. Just yes. All the yesses.
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