The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross

The Beast's Heart

Leife Shallcross

Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with a Beast for a year in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

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A luxuriously magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in seventeenth-century France--and told from the point of view of the Beast himself.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . .

Advance Galley Reviews

The first time I read the first four chapters, the story didn't hook me at all. Maybe too much of the story was told from the Beast's POV. His narrative thoughts dominated the beginning so much that the story was too slow and confusing for me. A week later, I decided to re-read those same four chapters and I was surprised just how many good parts of the story I had missed during the first reading. For example, I didn't notice the invisible servants or that the Beast was slowly regaining his human form inside his old home. So I enjoyed the story's beginning much more during the second reading. The writing is very good. I had to stop reading the book to meet this review deadline date at the point when the young woman voluntarily arrives at the Beast's home. Finally, this version of the often told and re-told story of Beauty and the Beast doesn't interest me enough to read to the end. Thank you for the opportunity to review it. Michael in Toronto, Canada

This story was beautiful. I haven't read something so lovely in quite a while and it refreshed me immensely. I could feel the Beast's pain and this re-telling of the original fairytale from his point of view is a tale I'll always treasure. I'll be sure to tell everyone I know who loves fairytales and re-tellings about this book. Thanks for the advanced reader!

I loved this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The author did a wonderful job with the emotions of Beast - how lonely he was, the despair of his situation and the anger he had in his past life which led to his becoming a beast. I also enjoyed how cautious Beast and Isabeau were with each other and how love slowly grew between them. The additional character stories of Isabeau's family added to the story. My interest was kept throughout and I even got teary eyed at times from sadness and from happiness! My only let down was not finding out who the Fairy was and her connection to Julien's grandmother. I will look forward to reading more from this author. Thanks to Penguin for the early copy to read.

I’m sorry. I really wanted to like this book but I finally had to abandon it and go on to something else. I just could not get into it and after 100 pages I said enough. I like a good fairy tale but this was just not for me. Thanks for the opportunity but I’m glad I didn’t spend money on this one.

“Enchantments and dreams: I suspect they are made of the same stuff. They each beguile the mind and confuse the senses with wonder and strangeness so all that was familiar becomes freakish, and the most bizarre of things intimate and natural. For the longest time after the curse fell, I did not know if I was a beast who dreamed of being a man, or a man who dreamed he was a beast.” I received a free e-copy through First to Read from the publishers at Penguin Random House. Trigger warning: suicide. It’s been over a century since the Beast was cursed into a monstrous form, a century of roaming the woods like a wild thing and returning to his decaying castle to re-teach himself how to be a man. His invisible servants see to his needs but do nothing against loneliness. When a weary traveler finds his way to the castle, the Beast has visions of the man’s beautiful youngest daughter. Desperate to meet her, the Beast tricks him into bringing her there, and Isabeau agrees to stay for a year. For the first time, the magic of the castle is affected by someone other than the Beast himself, and he begins to wonder if she might be the key to breaking the curse. This is lovely, languid retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story from the Beast’s perspective that closely follows the plot of the original fairytale. It’s full of whimsical magic and lush descriptions that might be over-done for some readers, but I found myself fully enjoying Shallcross’s world. I could almost see the castle in all its glory and decay, feel the course fur of the Beast’s paw, smell the roses in the magical garden. The plot is slow-moving, and the biggest conflict is obvious from countless other retellings: the Beast must convince Isabeau to marry him to break the spell. That’s all. There’s no twist, little outside danger, and few surprises, but I was wholly immersed in the story, regardless. It’s very much a novel of character. We share all the Beast’s inner thoughts and reactions, plus observe most of Isabeau’s and her family’s through the enchantment of the castle and the magic mirror. Far from being beastlike, the Beast is gentle, kind, and generous. He frets constantly over Isabeau’s happiness and despairs of the impending loneliness when their year is up. Isabeau’s character takes more time to emerge. She’s kind, patient, and stubborn. Unlike the Belle of the Disney version, she doesn’t love reading or, it seems, any particular pastime more than the others. Her struggle against her feelings for the Beast is fascinating, and the reader is able to guess that she dreams of him in his human form long before he realizes it. I was well-pleased with her ability to stand up for herself and the life she wants toward the end of the novel; in true heroine form, she shows a lot of gumption. I like that Shallcross takes pains to remove the abuse from the story. The Beast regrets manipulating Isabeau into the castle and almost immediately releases her from her promise. She stays because she agrees to, not because she’s a prisoner, and there’s nowhere in the castle or its grounds that she isn’t allowed to go. I read a few reviews accusing the Beast of emotional abuse, but I felt the opposite. He has a strong tendency to hover over her and worry about her well-being, but he gives her space when she asks except in the instance where her health is at stake. (If that constitutes abuse, I have news for you about the Disney version.) There’s also the issue that the magic mirror is an invasion of privacy, and there isn’t much of a defense for that other than to say that the Beast is a flawed hero. Most of his transgressions are committed out of loneliness, and while it’s not an excuse, I could at least understand where he was coming from. Since the Beast and Isabeau don’t have much to entertain them in the castle, and one can only watch them playing music and reading to each other (cute) for so long, the magic mirror also shows Isabeau’s father and two sisters adjusting to life without luxury. I was strongly reminded of A Court of Thorns and Roses here, but unlike Nesta and Elain, Marie and Claude rise to the occasion. I enjoyed watching them grow comfortable with their new skills and seeing their own potential romances play out. I love fairytale retellings but rarely love straightforward romances, so The Beast’s Heart was an altogether pleasant surprise for me. I’d read it again, and I’ll be looking for a copy for my personal library. I review regularly at

This book tells the story of The Beauty and the Beast from the Beast's perspective. The author tries to make the Beast sympathetic, but ultimately fails. The Beast knows that the things he does are wrong, yet he continues to do them. This failure isn't necessarily a failure of the author, but of the overall story itself since it's a retelling. The author does give fairly well written descriptions of magic, the castle grounds, and the overall atmosphere of the story setting. The positives in the writing fail to fully make up for the negatives with the overall story, which again are no real fault of the author. Where the author does fail in the story is that, in it being a retelling, he had the opportunity to adjust the story somewhat to make it fresh and new. Instead it's the same story with abusive plotlines, manipulation, kidnapping, and stalker-like behavior. This story is framed as a romance, but it isn't what romance is or should be. Ultimately, if you are a fan of the original story, you will be a fan of this and if you are not a fan of the original story this retelling probably isn't for you.

I have always loved fairy tales and The Beast's Heart is AMAZING! Once I started reading I could not put it down! I have never even considered this story from Beast's perspective but now that I have all renditions of this classic, for me, will never be the same!

I, unfortunately, was unable to finish this book. try as I might I just couldn't get past the slow pace and wording. I had to reread several spots just to try and understand what was going on.

It's a tale as old as time, but this time, from the Beast's perspective. We learn more about his life pre-Beauty, how he fought to come back from the animalistic blackness he found himself in when he was cursed. We learn a lot about Beast. A lot about his beauty Isabeau's sisters. But not a lot about Isabeau herself. She is pretty, moderately talented at the womanly arts of music and drawing, and servile. And that's about it. What every man dreams of. She has nightmares and the resulting insomnia plunges her into despair... which only Beast can cure, of course. I get that it is from his POV, and we are all the heroes of our own stories and focus on what we want to see. But after so many retellings of this tale where the beauty is such a real person, it felt like a let down. I was most disappointed in the reasoning for Beast's curse. What was meant to be a plucky twist, I suppose, seemed super forced. If Beast were alive today, he'd be the "oh, no we can't talk to women because #metoo" yuppie that we're supposed to believe has a heart of gold despite his penchant for stalking the girl he like's family because he has nothing better to do when she's not around except pout because she needs alone time. I'm ok with the Beast being a victim in his own story, I'm not into being told to believe he actually is one, especially when we get so little about the "evil" fairy -- who was in love with his grandmother?? Now there's a book I want to read.

I loved this book. Somehow, out of the many fairytale retellings I've read, I can't recall ever before reading a Beauty and the Beast retelling told completely from the Beast's point of view. The Beast's Heart is a beautifully written take on a familiar fairytale that still manages to feel unique. Once I started reading I didn't want to put this book down. Beast and Isabeau's slow progression from cautious co-inhabitants, to friends, to something more was lovely to read. All in all, everything about this story was really well done. My one tiny complaint is that I would've really liked to learn more about the Fairy and her connection to Beast's family, which was only hinted at in this book. If you enjoy fairytale retellings, I can't recommend this one highly enough.

I thought overall the story was interesting, but it didn't impress me. I think the writing itself could have been cleaned up a little to make the story a little clearer. I was also disappointed with the way the servants and fairy were portrayed. Although I found it interesting that the reason for the curse was different, the fairy felt convenient and although they played a big role only had two tiny parts in the story. I would rank this story middle of the road, it really wasn't bad but it also didn't have me staying up all night reading.

I enjoyed this book overall, but I didn't find it to be particularly standout. I felt it could have been shortened by 100 pages and not suffered. I appreciated seeing the familiar story from a different perspective, but I also felt Shallcross watered down the Beast a bit. The Fairy's reason for cursing him never felt fully justified and I remain confused about what the Fairy's connection to his grandmother was in the first place. The characters all felt a bit flat to me and could have all used some more development. I really didn't like that Isabeau seemed the least intelligent or resourceful of the sisters. My lifelong idolization of the "Beauty" in this story didn't hold up here. I love "Beauty" because of her independence and strength; that felt missing from Isabeau. As I've aged, the whole fairy tale has felt increasing creepy to me, though I still adore it and would cite it as a favorite. This version, however, really made some of those psychological issues I have with the story stand out. Again, I did enjoy the book. I really did. But it had some flaws that I simply couldn't overlook.

Wow. It never fails to surprise me when a story I know so we'll is retold and somehow becomes an entirely new tale. This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is written from the Beast's point of view and it is breathtaking. Absolutely delightful. I came to pity him, then adore him. My heart broke with his, rejoiced with his, hoped with his. By the last few chapters I was on pins and needles, as if I had no idea how the story ended...and, in fact, I didn't. It was better, so much better somehow, than any retelling of this story I've read before now. This is a stunning debut and I hope we'll see many more novels from Shallcross. Now excuse me while I have a good long cry.

i requested this without knowing a single thing about it, based on the cover and title. SOLD. except, i should have read about it, YA and told from the guy's POV - two of my not favourite things at the moment. my bad. for the most part, it was okay. i liked the romance, i liked the magical stuff. it was a bit too slowly paced for me though. it was sweet, i recommend it for a younger audience definitely.

A beautifully written twist to a classic tale from the beast's point of view. More in-depth and descriptive, the author takes you through an a first heartbreaking then keenly satisfying tale that ends in a beautiful happily ever after. For fans of Beauty and the Beast, this is a MUST READ!


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