Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Author Spotlight: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen + Interview

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
I've painted pottery, sold movie tickets and books, drawn cartoons, and hand-crafted fabric dolls. Now I get to write full-time; the hours are flexible and there's no dress code. My movie reviews appear on Rotten Tomatoes. My novel, "Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge," comes out in July, 2018, from Candlewick. My historical/fantasy "Alias Hook," was published by Thomas Dunne Books in July, 2014. My historical pirate novel, "The Witch From the Sea," was published in 2001.

Title: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Retelling
Author: Lisa Jensen
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication: Juily 10th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided ARC

Beauty and the Beast is one of today's most highly romanticized stories. Movies, books, collectible items, have all been made in the name of this story. I can't count on my hands how many retold novels have been published in the past five years alone of this grand story of a girl falling in love with a beast. A beast giving this girl his library and then his heart. It's a beautiful idea but it truly is a facade. 

We start this book through the eyes of a girl, a girl who is heading to a town to beg for a job at some rich guys house. The guy happens to be Beast before he was Beast, AKA the Chevalier. And the girl happens to be Lucie, a girl who becomes a maid at his chateau. 

Lucie being a maid for the Chevalier means that she is his and he does something pretty brutal to her and that causes a string of reactions that lead to him being cursed and becoming Beast. Lucie might have been there when it happened but she was definitely not the one who caused it. This was something that was a long time coming. But is this curse really what it seems to be? Is the Cavalier really who he seems to be? 

This story started out slightly average. A bit boring if you want blatant honesty. There was a girl who needed to escape her stepfather's house before he noticed how her body had grown. So with that right there the book starts out with a demeaning sexual tone. And with that tone already set, I don't truly understand the anger behind a lot of people's reaction to the sexual assault scene while they didn't say anything about the stepfather thing. 

Everyone always says how much they love this fairytale but the aspect they love so much is the library and the love story. I don't think anyone truly grasps the real nature behind this book. In its depths the story is about a man who was already a beast, a witch just did the world of making his exterior match his interior but we never really stop to think what exactly the Beast did to become such a horrible man. Surely there has to be more to the story of just a man being spoiled and turning away an old lady seeking shelter. Lisa Jensen put a face to that horrible thing and people are mad about it. Essentially a man was already a beast inside and when he became a beast on the outside something changed and he became a real man. Showing someone who they truly are by giving it a face is humbling.

This book is very refreshing and while, yes I am kind of sad about my favorite story being portrayed as something so harsh, it seems more realistic than just a fantasy story of a girl, a beast, and a library. This book has a moral to it, that moral being that sometimes what is viewed as a curse from outsiders is actually the truth and what is viewed as the truth is actually the curse. 

In the end, I am so very glad the author decided to write this book the way she did. Belle got her library and Beast got his happily ever after, even if they weren't the normal ways that we are used to hearing about.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.

What was the inspiration behind writing this retelling of Beauty and the Beast?
I love Beauty and the Beast, but I was always disappointed at the ending, when noble Beast turns back into the handsome prince. That's so unfair! Beast did all the work of wooing Beauty. Beast is the one she falls in love with. Why should the prince get the girl?  So I wanted to rewrite the story so that Beast, himself, is the hero he deserves to be, not the prince.
Why did you choose to tell the story from Lucie's point of view instead of the more traditional way with "Belle" being the main focal point?
Because I approached the tale from the viewpoint of someone who always loved Beast better than the prince, I wanted the heroine in my book to reflect that point of view. Wouldn't it be more interesting, I thought, if there was another woman in the story (not the Beauty character) who loves Beast just the way he is? Servant girl Lucie has a very good reason to hate the prince, who was arrogant and cruel, but she falls in love with the Beast who magically appears in his place. Despite his savage appearance, Beast is kind-hearted and generous.
Imagine how horrifying it would be for Lucie when the Beauty character (I call her Rose) arrives at the castle, with the power to break the spell! Her beloved Beast would be gone and the evil prince would be restored. Lucie will do anything to stop the story from playing out as we expect it to, and preserve her Beast!
If you had to choose between never writing again or never reading a book again, which would you pick?
Oh, man, that's a tough one! Reading is a bullet train to infinite worlds, ideas, and stories; what a tragedy it would be to get kicked off that train! But writing is life's blood to me. The act of writing, itself, shaping the language, is a huge pleasure to me! Also, I don't know what I think about something, or what my own inner feelings are, until I write about them. It's how I understand the world. So I would have to choose writing.
Why do you think so many people are obsessed with Beauty and the Beast?
It's irresistible! Who doesn't love the story about a brave young woman who sees beyond the face of a monster to the noble soul inside? It has something for everybody, whether you identify with the young woman's courage, or the misunderstood "monster."
Are you currently working on any new books?
Always! Next time, I'm taking a break from fairy tales (after Beast and Alias Hook, which was inspired by Peter Pan) and retelling a story from Shakespeare. Of course, it will be a bit different in my version!

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