Beastly by Alex Flinn
Young Adult, Romance, Fairy Tale Retelling
Audiobook (Brilliance Audio, $24.99)
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright — a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever — ruined — unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.
Author Site: www.alexflinn.com
Bold, Beautiful, Beastly (5 stars)
It's not difficult to sum up the plot of Beastly. If you've ever heard the tale of Beauty and the Beast you can pick this title up knowing enough about it to be sure there will be a spoiled, wicked boy turned monster and a gentle, lovely girl who eventually falls for him in spite of his monstrosity. Fortunately for us, author Alex Flinn knows how to take a beloved classic (my personal all-time favorite fairy tale) and spin it into a modern fable of truly enjoyable proportions.
Kyle Kingsbury is king of his expensive private school, or prince rather... elected to the homecoming court by his peers based on looks alone. With friends and a girlfriend just as shallow and nasty it will take more than his childhood miseries to make him see the error of his ways. His one act of kindness just before the homecoming dance gives him two years to reverse the curse placed on him by Kayla, a witch who thinks he might be redeemable. But as months pass and his wealthy, famous father cannot find a doctor able to cure him of his ghastly condition hope is all but lost.
Sent away to an old house in Brooklyn with only his foreign housekeeper and a blind tutor for company, Kyle broods and whiles away his hours watching others from the attic window or the magic mirror Kayla gave him. With the help of his tutor he eventually builds a greenhouse where he grows roses, a greenhouse that is eventually broken into by a desperate man addicted to drugs. The man promises to bring his daughter to Kyle in exchange for not handing the evidence of his break-in to the police. Against her will Lindy is brought to Kyle's "castle" and his hope that she might be persuaded to love him, breaking the curse, carries the story along to its climax in truly fairy-tale-romance threads.
I've had the book on my wishlist forever, but getting my hands on the audiobook really made me happy. I'm a busy mother so I popped in each disk one after the other throughout my day of baby care, housework and yard watering. Any time I happened to get too far away in another area of my home to hear it the chapters were set up so I could easily jump back and catch up without five minutes of overlap which I really found useful. The narrator's voice was alright... honestly, when he did the female character's voices I found them really annoyingly cartoony which was distracting. But it was tolerable overall. With six disks it's about a five hour and twenty minute book. (As I recall it anyway... It may have been a bit longer but I did back-up several times so I am gestimating a little there).
The story itself was excellent!!! I love Beauty and the Beast retellings but this one is unusually good. It's modern and with a few exceptions very believable. I grew particularly fond of Will, Kyle's blind tutor, and Magda, is housekeeper. Their roles in the story really enrich it. I could have done without the silly chatroom sections where Kyle speaks to other cursed and transformed persons but my 10-year-old found them really amusing.
Overall I loved this story. I was shocked to keep catching my 10-year-old son sitting and listening to it instead of playing video games. When it was over he actually told me he had really liked it. That said I would highly recommend the audiobook for a 9-15 year old audience on a long car trip. Maybe even an older fan of classic fairy tale retellings. Oh, and parents who care about this sort of thing should note there are a few swear words and sexual references but it's all very age appropriate, cutting off where details might be too much or dropping off and saying "I cursed" instead of actually using the word. I found it to be well suited to the age group suggested for this. Now I think I might have to buy a book copy for myself and let my kid have the audio version. ;) Enjoy!
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Notes: I received this audiobook via Amazon's Vine Program.
And for those of you who might not have seen or heard about it yet there is a movie version (though heavily changed based on the trailer) coming out sometime next year. You can see the trailer here: