Review: The Rose Gate

We are closing in on the first half of #fairytalesummer with The Rose Gate by Hanna Sandvig. This was a new author for me. Her unique style of modern-day fae isekai stories in her Faerie Tale Romances series made for a refreshing change from the usual fairy tale retellings. This book is an adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" that does a good job of keeping it fresh while retaining the essence of the classic tale that we all know and love. On a personal level, I particularly liked that the main character worked in the children's section of a library reading fairy tales to kids. That was more than a little relatable. 😉 The series follows a pattern of girls from the real world traveling through fae gates to Tir Na nOg, which is a great method of escapism that perfectly balances modern sensibilities with fantasy stories of old.


Isobel is a typical modern girl who spends her days teaching kids feminism at the library for a mysterious boss who is more than she appears. Sick of her family's drama, Isobel runs away into the woods one night without considering the danger of getting attacked by wolves in the dark. When the inevitable attack happens, she is rescued by a bear and wakes up on the other side of a faerie portal in an enchanted castle. In the fae realm, the bear becomes a human prince named Leith, and Isobel learns that he is under some sort of curse but finds it difficult to get the enchanted animals living there to tell her more information about it. She tries her best to enjoy her stay, taking advantage of the castle's generous library, delicious food, and beautiful clothing. She befriends the staff, who are also trapped in the bodies of animals, and does her best to get to know Leith better before it's time to return to her world. After a visit back home, she realizes that there are more ties between the two realms than she could have possibly imagined.

I like that this book has a modern heroine from the real world because it makes it easy to follow and relate to Isobel. However, books that do this tend to fall into the trap of characters knowing things they shouldn't because their story already exists in the real world. Despite all of the obvious references to "Beauty and the Beast," Isobel never compares Belle's story to her own. However, there is one awkward part in which she reads the kids a book that contains the "Disney version" of "The Frog Prince" in which a simple kiss breaks the frog's cruse book and deliberates on whether or not that would solve Leith's problem as well. This is an odd choice because the Disney version of "The Frog Prince" isn't even called "The Frog Prince," and when Tiana kisses the prince for the first time, she turns into a frog herself, which doesn't solve anyone's problems. If she had referenced just about any other Disney Princess story, this discrepancy wouldn't exist. I'm not sure if that means these books take place in a world with an alternate version of Disney or if the author isn't familiar with their adaptations.

The Rose Gate introduces a compelling love story and takes the time to develop Isobel and Leith's feelings for each other, even if they include a few misunderstandings along the way. Isobel's lack of experience with romance is cute, and I enjoyed the scene where she asks her sisters to give her a makeover to prepare for a romantic evening with Leith. It was a nice throwback to the nostalgic romcoms from the early 2000s that have become obsolete by modern standards. It is admirable how hard Isobel was willing to work to break a curse on someone she had just met, and I enjoyed getting to know the other inhabitants in the castle. They are just as charming as Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Mrs. Potts, but have their own unique personalities that are separate from the Disney sidekicks. It's always thrilling to read a book that takes place in a world so similar to our own and slowly reveals that there is magic hidden in it, allowing us to imagine how easy it would be for our everyday lives to become magical if we just know where to look.

The Rose Gate by Hanna Sandvig is an enchanting retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" that skillfully blends modern-day isekai elements with the classic tale's essence and fae mythology. Isobel's relatable character and her journey from the real world to Tir Na nOg make for an engaging read. The book's unique take on the classic tale, combined with its well-developed characters, enchanting setting, and sweet romance, make it a must-read for fans of fairy tale retellings. While there may be some minor missteps, the book's charm and magic shine through, leaving readers eager to explore more of the Faerie Tale Romances series and the enchanting world Sandvig has created.

Comments

Emma said…
I loved this book too and would definitely recommend its sequels.

Another Beauty and the Beast retelling I would recommend is The Scarlet Rose by Valia Lind.
It is similar to The Rose Gate with a modern-day girl entering a fantasy world. I hope you will give it a try.

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