Review: Beast of Rosemead

You may recall my recent review of the Cahraman trilogy by Lucy Tempest, a gender-swapped adaptation of "Aladdin" with an overly complicated backstory. Needless to say, I wasn't particularly eager to read her latest book, Beast of Rosemead until I was offered an advance copy in exchange for my honest review. As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised. Beast of Rosemead is the first part of a two-book saga, which is an improvement over the slow pacing of the lengthy three-part Cahraman trilogy. As the next story in Lucy Tempest's Fairy Tales of Folkshore series, it contains plenty of references to the Cahraman books. While it certainly helps to read those first, it's not hard to figure out what's going on in Beast of Rosemead even if you have no prior knowledge of the series.

Beast of Rosemead is the story of Bonnie, Adelaide's best friend from Thief of Cahraman. Unlike Adelaide's story, this "Beauty and the Beast" adaptation is not gender-swapped. If that's what you're looking for, Aya Ling recently released The Beast and the Beauty in her Reversed Retellings series. Bonnie from Beast of Rosemead is very much like Disney's Belle, right down to her name, Bonnibel. She longs for adventure, loves to read, and is fiercely loyal to her father and everyone she cares about. Unlike the Charles Perrault version, Bonnie has no sisters and does not traverse to the castle after learning about the arrangement that her father made with the beast in order to spare his own life. Instead, she personally offers to trade herself as his captive in order to free her father just like Disney's Belle does for Maurice. There are many other references to the Disney film including a character named Castor who is practically identical to Gaston.

The "beast" character is, of course, a cursed prince named Leander. Those of you who read Prince of Cahraman might remember a reference to him as the brother of Fairuza, the "Sleeping Beauty" from this series. Beast of Rosemead also makes references to other fairy tale characters, most notably Robin Hood, who plays a large role in the story's climax. Leander is quite tame for a beast. He doesn't have much of a temper and is ashamed of his cursed form. He finds it necessary to hide away in the castle due to previous misunderstandings about his capacity for violence when he is actually more of a pacifist. His biggest fault is his naivete. He wishes to charm Bonnie in order to break the curse but doesn't know how to court her after she rejects the expensive gowns and jewelry he presents. Just like in the Disney movie, their relationship progresses exponentially after Bonnie gets attacked while trying to escape the castle and Leander rescues her. Bonnie teaches Leander how to form a healthy relationship on a more personal level than buying presents.

If you are expecting this book to have a satisfying resolution, you will probably be disappointed. Even though Beast of Rosemead encompasses all of the major scenes from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, it does not have the same happy ending. This is the first book in a two-part story, so you might want to hold off reading this until the second part is released if you get impatient with stories. That said, it is satisfying enough for what it is. By the end of the book, nearly all of the events of the Disney movie are covered, and we delve deeper into the mythology of the land of Folkshore introduced in Thief of Cahraman. This leads me to believe that the next Rosemead book will contain more original plot developments along Bonnie's journey than this one did. However, Beast of Rosemead was not a complete copy of Beauty and the Beast. There were some original elements, such as the servants in the castle being transformed into mythological beings instead of household objects. Jessamine, a maid who turns into a winged gargoyle, has an interesting backstory that is revealed gradually throughout the course of the book as she and Bonnie become friends.

If you enjoyed the Thief of Cahraman books, Beast of Rosemead delves a little deeper into the mythology of Folkshore and explores what happened on the other side of the portal during the brief moment that Adelaide found her lost friend. Most of the book follows Disney's Beauty and the Beast, so if you are a fan of that, you might enjoy this alternate take on it. Even though I did not personally find Bonnie and Leander are more interesting than Belle and Beast, it was still a quick and fun read overall. I am curious to see how the mythology of Folkshore will impact Bonnie's journey in the next book.


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