Review: The Rose and the Thorn

"Beauty and the Beast" is a fairy tale that princess fans never get tired of. Its gothic setting, intrigue, and romance are staples of any good princess story. The most famous novel adaptation is Beauty by Robin McKinley, but there are plenty of others that are just as good. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a more recent retelling on Twitter called The Rose and the Thorn by Katherine Macdonald. This book shares some common threads with Enchantment by Camille Peters, another "Beauty and the Beast" adaptation I read recently, but unlike that version, it does not overlook the main theme of seeing beyond physical appearances. The "Beast" character in this book is cursed to appear to the world as a monster just like the one in the fairy tale and even picks up some of the violent tendencies of his beastly outer shell once a month, similar to werewolf mythology. However, the book has very little violence overall. Like most "Beauty and the Beast" adaptations, The Rose and the Thorn is a patient romance set in a mysterious enchanted castle.

The Rose and the Thorn by Katherine Macdonald

The story begins when Rose finds herself lost in the woods one day while out with her family and accidentally stumbles into a portal that leads her to the Beast's castle. Once there, she learns that the portal won't open again for six months, leaving her stuck in a magic castle with a beastly stranger. Rose grows close with the Beast and gives him the nickname "Thorn." She learns that he has been trapped there for a long time and is afraid to leave for fear of how the outside world might perceive him. She also learns that several other young women spent time in the castle before her in the hopes that they would break his curse, but none of them could see past his monstrous appearance beyond mere pity. Rose also learns to see and communicate with the apparitions that haunt the castle who were once Thorn's servants. She grows particularly close with one of them named Ariel, who serves as a matchmaker of sorts for the budding couple. When the portal opens again, Rose is forced to choose between her love for her family and her love for Thorn.

One of the things that sets this adaptation apart from other versions of "Beauty and the Beast" is how close Rose is with her siblings. The Disney version presents her as an only child, while the famous Charles Perrault version gives her many two-dimensional siblings who love fine jewels and riches far more than they care about her. In this book, Rose has two sisters named Honour and Hope, who she is exceedingly close with. Her brother, Freedom, once had a troubled relationship with her, but she comes to learn that he loves her just as much as any brother possibly could after her mysterious disappearance. Her relationship with her father is not as strong in this book as it is in other versions. She does not sacrifice herself for his sake in this story, but it is clear that he did an excellent job raising kind-hearted children after their mother died. It is revealed later that Rose's arrival at Thorn's castle might have been more than just a coincidence because of a secret she discovers from her mother's past.

Romance is the most important aspect of any "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, and this book excels in that respect as well. During her time in the castle, Rose convinces Thorn to open up about himself little by little. She is extraordinarily patient with him and never judges his appearance or insecurities. After his experience with other girls who stayed in the castle, Thorn knows that Rose is special. He assumes she would be scared of him at first and is surprised when she isn't. They have many cute moments together, including several that resemble the Disney film. He grows so close with her that he worries he is being selfish by keeping her to himself, so he shows her his magic mirrors to let her see her family. During the book's thrilling climax, Thorn and Rose must prove their love to the powerful wicked fairy who placed the curse on him and his castle.

Overall, The Rose and the Thorn is a traditional retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" with some well-written new elements. I loved Rose's family and the backstory with the two fairies that caused the curse on Thorn and his castle. The book had a few minor typos throughout, but I didn't find them too distracting. Rose and Thorn were terrific archetypes for the "Beauty" and "Beast" characters. The less important characters in the story were fleshed out and full of personality as well. It was a relaxing and patient book that only picked up the pace when it was necessary. If you are a fan of alternate versions of "Beauty and the Beast," you will love this book.

Comments

jar1234 said…
The story sounds very good. I always liked the theme of Beauty and the Beast.
Anonymous said…
Beware, "Beauty and the beast" wasn't written by Charles Perrault but by Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont...
Lisa Dawn said…
Hello Anonymous,

Both of them have written versions of the story. You can read the Perrault one at http://johnsonclasswebsite.weebly.com/uploads/5/6/3/4/56345927/beauty_and_the_beast.pdf and the Beaumont one at https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/beauty.html. They are sightly different. The original version was actually written by neither of them, but in fact, Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. However, the other two versions are more famous. You can read more about the fairy tale at http://www.theprincessblog.org/2017/08/the-legacy-of-beauty-and-beast.html. Have a lovely day!

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