Review: The Winter Prince

The Winter Prince by Constance Lopez is the fourth ARC I have read from the upcoming Once Upon a Prince series. Constance was the frontrunner for the series, so I expected her book to capture the essence of what Once Upon a Prince was meant to represent. It was not my favorite of the ones I've read so far, but it did have some unique elements. The Winter Prince is a relatively standard retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" with the main difference being that the Gaston archetype is the prince's cousin instead of a person that the Beauty character knew from her hometown. I was hoping for a gender-bent retelling of the fairy tale since I wasn't too impressed with the ones I've read so far. Still, the timeless classic of "Beauty and the Beast" is always a pleasant read with much to offer to gothic romance and fantasy fans.

Revi is a fae prince of the Winter Court whose kingdom suffered under a curse that was enacted by their enemies. Though Revi already possessed the ability to shapeshift, the curse prevented him from returning to his human form, forcing him to remain a beast until it was broken. One of the weaker elements of this book was the convoluted nature of the curse. The prologue was very confusing and difficult to get through. It wasn't clear why Revi was cursed or how he was meant to break it, and I probably never would have understood it if I hadn't already been familiar with the original fairy tale. Fortunately, the book gets more interesting after Kienna appears at the castle in an attempt to protect her father. Even though Beauty tends to be the more relatable character in "Beauty and the Beast" in most retellings, I think her importance to this story detracts from the unique focus that the Once Upon a Prince series is supposed to have on the princes.

This book takes place from three different perspectives--Revi, Kienna, and Enlo. Enlo is the outlier that made it work as an original retelling of "Beauty and the Beast." He is Revi's cousin and plays a similar role to Gaston, but it is handled in a unique and creative way. Over the course of Kienna's stay in Revi's castle, Revi uses his fae magic to visit Kienna in her dreams, which was the only way he could appear to her in human form. Due to his embarrassment about the curse, he does not tell Kienna who he is when he appears as her "dream prince," leaving her to figure it out on her own. When she meets Enlo, Revi's cousin who bears a strong resemblance to him, she naturally assumes that he was the one who visited her in her dreams. Due to Enlo's womanizing nature and determination to break the curse, he encourages Kienna's mistake in an attempt to make her fall in love with him. Her ability to discern between the two princes is the true test of her love for Revi.

The setting of the Winter Court is similar to another book in this series that I read, The Golden Prince, but the two books do not seem to be connected due to the fact that everyone from the Winter Court in that book was an evil monster. Here, Winter is good, but it is dying, and it is up to Revi to save his people. The rose that Kienna's father steals to enact the events of the fairy tale is a frostrose, as a regular rose would not have been able to survive in Winter. The book follows the tropes of paranormal romance, which is one of my favorite genres, not only because Revi is trapped in the body of a beast, but also because he is fae and Kienna is human. The pride that Kienna takes in her humanity is a lovely theme that is empowering to readers. It also explains why Enlo thought she would be easy to manipulate. Therefore, Revi's respect for her Kienna's character is all the more meaningful when he comes from a race that typically believes itself superior to humans. The book does a great job of incorporating all the romance that one would expect from a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling.

In this enchanting retelling of "Beauty and the Beast," Constance Lopez weaves a tale filled with unique twists and captivating characters. The Winter Prince, though not my personal favorite in the Once Upon a Prince series, offers a pleasant read for fans of gothic romance and fantasy. While the prologue may be confusing, the story gains momentum as Kienna enters Revi's life. The introduction of Enlo adds a refreshing and creative element to the fairy tale. The story's multiple perspectives provide depth and contribute to the originality of this retelling. The setting of the Winter Court, although different from previous books in the series, brings a unique charm to the story. The theme of the Winter Court's struggle for survival and Revi's mission to save his people adds urgency and purpose to the narrative while his relationship with Kienna provides a delightful paranormal romance. Kienna's strength and Revi's respect for her character challenge conventions and make their connection all the more meaningful. The Winter Prince is a satisfying addition to the Once Upon a Prince series, blending romance, fantasy, and a touch of mystery. It offers readers a timeless tale with its own distinct flavor, perfect for those who enjoy exploring the depths of gothic romance and the allure of fantastical realms.

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