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Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic

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Enter a world of dark beauty…

This collection of enchanting and disturbing stories ranging from fantasy to speculative fiction will leave you spellbound! (Includes retellings of Beauty and the Beast)

Transfigured - The Beast has changed back to a handsome prince, yet Beauty finds out that although some curses may be broken, they are never completely destroyed.

No Loyal Knight and True – In this modern-day retelling of Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, a boyhood encounter with an odd girl who lives in a tower alters the course of Ryan’s destiny.

Belle Noir – Young Jane flees from her abusive father into a seemingly perfect marriage only to find that the darkest hearts are never revealed until it is too late.

Grotesque - A woman hardened by a difficult past witnesses a horrifying tragedy and undergoes a magical transformation.

Mirabilis (A Novelette) - Rosaria's life changes the day the veiled and mysterious Lord Devlin hires her to cure him of a terrible curse.

***Some stories contain mature subject matter. 18+***

137 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 1, 2013

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About the author

Ava Zavora

7 books73 followers
In my childhood, I rode water buffaloes and waded in swamps. Nowadays, I travel and write romantic stories about adventurous women.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews
Profile Image for Ornella.
1,146 reviews82 followers
June 19, 2013
A copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

My favorite fairy tale at this point is Beauty and the Beast (I don't actually read many re-tellings but I love Beauty and the Beast), probably because it's one of the few that really drives in the point of true love. How they have learn to over come their first impressions and prejudices. How a person can change and just not physically, and how sometimes that just isn't enough.

Each story had a different tone to it and it's own writing style that went with the type of tale that was told. Really liked how it was done and how it came across. These tales don't all have a happy ending, they are realistic in that sense, even with the elements of magic thrown in. All the stories are actually pretty depressing, but I really liked them anyway.

My favorite one is Mirabilis followed by Transfigured. Even though all them are really short, and you are kind of just thrown in the middle of the story, you can still follow it through and even the world-building in each one was really well done. That's what drew me in with Mirabilis. It took place in a whole different fantastical place and even with its short length Zavora was able to capture this place's essence and weave a beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

I also really liked the retelling for The Lady of Shalott, anything that has to do with Camelot I love, and it was a nice treat to have the actual poem there as well. My least favorite were Grotesque and Belle Noir, both because they just death with really tough issues. Belle Noir specially because it highlights that the beast doesn't have to be physically deformed for it to actually be one, and what a beast it was!

What I really loved though were the endings in all of them. They end in such a way that you have to draw your own conclusions and even though they could be obvious ones they could end up being completely unexpected. It's really up to the reader to decide what kind of ending they would like to have.
Profile Image for Amira.
21 reviews6 followers
June 6, 2013
When the author contacted me for a review, I was hesitant since I have never before heard of this book or the author. I had reservations but I accepted because I do love fairy tale retellings and short stories. As soon as I started reading, all my hesitation completely vanished. Before anything else, I have to say that from the first sentence to the last, the author's exquisite writing enthralled me.

The stories themselves are mostly dark and unsettling. The author promised me three very different versions of Beauty and the Beast and I was bit skeptical at first, thinking that the plot was just going to be repeated with different details. But I got what was promised. Each story (Transfigured, Belle Noir, and Mirabilis) was a unique take on Beauty and the Beast that made me see the fairy tale in a way I had never seen before. Out of the three, I would have to say that Mirabilis is my favorite.

No Loyal Knight and True took the Lady of Shallott and remade it in a modern setting. Again, what the author did was very creative while remaining true to the original. Grotesque was strange and haunting. Each of the stories went in unexpected directions.

What I really liked too and I love it when authors do this is the afterword in the end when she talks about her inspirations for the stories. It was enlightening and added an extra dimension.

I am delighted that I got to read this book and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Monique.
626 reviews40 followers
February 18, 2017
Well...this was an interesting and creepy collection of short stories. It's obvious that the author is fascinated with the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, since three of the five stories in the book are centered on the classic. Mix in some Tennyson and weird shit from an LSD trip and...Tah-Dah! Good creepy times!
Note that 'Belle Noir' -the story that didn't have much of a magical element - was the most disturbing of the collection, and as such, it should have a trigger warning.
The writing in 'Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic' was beautiful. I don't know how to describe the author's style, but I will say that this collection reminds me of A. S. Byatt's 'Little Black Book of Stories'...but stranger and much creepier.
Zavora has a lot of talent, and I hope to read more of her stories in the future!
4.5 stars!
Profile Image for Heather.
432 reviews268 followers
July 30, 2013
(This review can be found on my blog The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl at the end of August).

I had high hopes for this book. It sounded amazing and had a gorgeous cover! I was super glad when this book lived up to my high hopes, and oh, the feels!

How gorgeous is that cover!?! I think it portrays the feelings of this book quite well. I love the creepy yet mystical feel of the cover.

I also really love the title. It really drew me in and really wanted to make me find out more about this book. The title makes me think there's some sort of mystery behind it.

The worlds Miss Zavora creates for each story are done so well. Each story's world grips you and pulls you in so you can experience everything each story has in store for you. The descriptions of the setting in each story is done so superbly. Miss Zavora does a more than excellent job of describing everything.

The pacing for this book is done fantastically just like everything else in this book. I thought that I'd be bored with some of the stories, but that wasn't the case. I couldn't find out what was going to happen quick enough. This book was my candy, and I couldn't wait until I could eat it all. The only story where I felt the pacing slowed a bit was the story called Mirabilis. I just felt that there was a bit too much story that we didn't need to read. However, the writing wasn't bad, so I feel like this was just a personal thing.

I've read a few books that were retellings of other classic stories, but none quite so good as this. The plots of each story take on their own personality instead of just sounding like the classic story their about in the author's own words. We all know the story of Beauty and the Beast, but Miss Zavora makes this story her own with her different takes on it. I have to admit that I wasn't familiar with The Lady of Shallot, but again, the author presents her amazing take on this story.

The characters felt very much life like and very 3-D like. They each had their own special personality, and not one of the characters ever felt the same as a character in another story. Personally, my favorite character was Beauty, but they were all amazing! It's as if Miss Zavora added a touch of magic to make these characters jump off the page and come to life.

The dialogue was written beautifully and flowed so naturally. Based on the dialogue, it's apparent that Miss Zavora was born to write magically. The words that I read just worked together so beautifully, and if I had even have the talent that Ava Zavora does, I would be able to do better justice to this work of art. I don't remember any swear words, but there is a story dealing with sexual abuse just to forewarn you.

Overall, Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic is a book that I can't praise highly enough. Ava Zavora is one of the most talented authors if all of her other works are as beautifully written as this is. Belle Noir has everything a great book should have: great writing, a fantastic plot, well written characters, and fantastic pacing! The book is a work of art and should be treasured! Also, is it possible to be highly in love with a book? Because I am so much in love with this one!

I'd recommend this book (although it says 18+) to those aged 16+ who are after a book that is magically written.
Profile Image for Rayna  Del Rivas.
20 reviews6 followers
June 16, 2013
I must admit that I was taken aback upon being approached to do a review. My first instinct was to say no because I encountered some poorly written self-published stories (*shudders*) not too long ago. But upon sampling the book, that changed to an enthusiastic YES! And I am very relieved to report that I never had cause to regret accepting.

What lured my interest? Zavora's storytelling is luminous. The stories, five in all, range from gothic fantasy to literary but with fairy tale threads running throughout. Some are more intense than others, contrasting vividly beautiful prose with uncomfortable themes that stayed with me days after I read them.

Transfigured is the sample I read: turns the beauty and the beast fairy tale inside out and upside down and ends in a very memorable, astonishing note.

No Loyal Knight and True - I'm trying to think if I've read any other Lady of Shalott-based stories and I'm coming up blank. This one revived my interest in the poem, which I read a long time ago. Just when I thought it was headed one way, it completely headed somewhere else.

Belle Noir - I thought what the author did in Transfigured was impressive, but Belle Noir was an unexpected, stop in my tracks story that turns the fairy tale on its head yet again.

Grotesque - This gargoyle themed story is the perfect example of a magical, multi-layered tale that looks to be one way in the beginning but ended up being delicately beautiful.

Mirabilis - At first glance this looks to be a traditional, fairly straighforward retelling but again, as in the others, the author managed to do something different and still provide a happy ending.

It's hard to pick which one is my favorite, as they all have their strengths. It would have to be a tie between Transfigured and No Loyal Knight and True.

While I see that the author has written some romance novels (which I probably won't read as they are not my thing) I eagerly look forward to more of her fantasy stories.
Profile Image for Danielle Young.
Author 7 books89 followers
June 28, 2013
Every since I was a little girl I have been a fan of fairy tales. I have them to thank for my romantic ways. But we all know how fairy tales end, Happy Ever After. When I was first asked to read Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic I was immediately intrigued by the darkness that was hinted at through the synopsis.

And as I read through the compilation of stories I was not disappointed as each story took what I expected from a fairy tale and turned it on its head, delivering a darker, more realistic and pessimistic view.

With every story Ava Zavora transported me to another place in time as each story felt like it was told from an ancient time.

Though I enjoyed all the stories in this collection, my favorite had to be Mirabilis. It leaned slightly more toward a traditional fairy tale, but it still had a dark edge. I found that I couldn't help but have hope for a happy ending as I read the story of Lord Devlin and Rosaria. The story of Mirabilis was reminiscent of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, but with wonderful twists that only made the story better. Just like in Beauty and the Beast you can't help but route for a happy ending. Especially after all the not so happy endings in the other tales.

But there were times where I felt that the way the stories were told also confused the stories, often giving you the sense that the tenses changed throughout the stories; causing some stories easier to follow than others.

Despite that, the stories in Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic definitely give the readers a twist on the usual fairy tales and delivers the reader to a time when things didn't always seem to end with happy ever after. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for a darker take on fairy tales.

Belle Noir: Tales of Love and Magic will transport its readers to another place in time. A place of undeniable odds, a place of magic, and a place where you never know the ending.

*Received free copy in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for ♥Scout Paige♥.
34 reviews30 followers
July 13, 2013
The full review is posted on my blog:

An e-copy of Belle was sent to me by the author in return for an honest review, And I was a bit nervous because its the first anthology I've read. Belle Noir is a collection of short stories for adults and most of the stories are about heartbreak, pain and magic. This book was so original, I didn't want to put it down. Don't let the name and cover fool you, Belle Noir is dark and heart wrenching, All of the characters in the first four stories faced great pain - at the hands of men - and reading about them felt like witnessing some thing private that was shared by accident, but I couldn't look away, it was too intriguing.
November 15, 2013
I was provided with a copy from the author for an honest review.

Prepare to have your mind opened to so new possibilities on the story you thought you know. In this book of short stories Beauty & The Beast is redone three times. Each time it is reworked in such a manner that you will be amazed at how many different versions this tale can really have. Well written and thought provoking. These stories had me thinking about the characters and the plot well after I set the book down.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 4 books34 followers
November 18, 2013
A quick, yet enjoyable read. There is a definite dark undertone to all of these stories. There are also moment of twists I did not see coming. Ultimately, I take away the message of not judging someone by their outside. Sometimes you have to look deeper.

If you like to read about different takes on classic fairy tales, I highly recommend Belle Noir.

*I received this free as a first reads giveaway*
Profile Image for Diane Ehlers.
Author 5 books38 followers
June 22, 2016

Originally posted on Paranormal Sisters http://www.paranormalsisters.blogspot...

*was provided with a copy from author for an honest review*

I was excited when I read the blurb for this when the author came to me. I mean, who wouldn't be excited when 3/5 stories are retellings of beauty and the beast (my favorite fairy tale, by the way). So when I was able to get to it, I dived right in.

I read this back in July so this may be hard to review but I need to do this. Some things are memorable to me but truthfully I don't really remember the first two stories in this book. I remember the last three though so I'll talk some about them.

Belle Noir: was fast paced and I was surprised on where it was going. I hated where it was going because I'm really not a big fan on reading stories of child sexual abuse so this led me to be sour at the end of it.

Grotesque: was an okay read. Most of the time I felt disconnected from it but I did like that it was about gargoyles, it was a nice surprise (and twist, sorry)

Mirabillis: this was a novella and it was awesome. The time period I loved and what the actually beast looked like was definitely creative, I couldn't get enough and the most memorable.

Let’s see, I went back to the summary and read what the first two stories were. I remember them now but sadly this book isn't that memorable.

Transfigured: this was interesting and sad, completely different than the tale of beauty and the beast. I felt complete sympathy for our main girl. There’s a sex scene, so have fun with it lovers of this tale ;)

No Loyal Knight and True: this felt like Rapunzel more than anything and sadly, this story isn't about her. It was enjoyable but again I didn't know where things were going.

Overall this is an okay read. I don't regret it but I wished I would have liked it more. Sometimes sentences would go on and on, dragging to the point of my eyes getting tired. I couldn't believe how long some of them were, so that helped with me not quite enjoying it. These are adult themes so this is a forewarning. I knew it was but I was hoping one wouldn't lead to a child getting what she doesn't deserve, that man is truly a beast. So if that makes you uncomfortable then skip story number 3. Other than that, the rest can be read comfortably.
Profile Image for Sara.
35 reviews
October 19, 2013
I was expecting a version of stories of retellings of traditional tales (which the book was advertised as). In four of the stories the links with the traditional tales were weak and were disturbing tales (about things I was not expecting like Child abuse). The fifth story Mirabilis was fantastic, exactly what the collection should have been like. It was a retelling of beauty and the beast where the beauty and beast worked together to find a cure. This is what I expected the rest to be like. As a result I was unable to give this story the 4 stars it deserves as overall I did not like the book. I would recommend reading Mirabilis and ignoring the rest of the stories.
Displaying 1 - 13 of 13 reviews

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