Review: The Beauty and the Griffin

The Beauty and the Griffin by JM Stengl is the thrilling conclusion to the Faraway Castle series that I started reading during the first year of my blog. It's been a long wait for this sixth installment, but it was worth it. The ARC I received serves as a cathartic conclusion to the stories of all these royal modern-day teenagers who stayed at the enchanted Faraway Castle resort as an escape from day-to-day life. This book is a retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" that adapts the fairy tale uniquely, incorporating elements that are rarely used in other adaptations including the beast's nightly proposals and the beauty's dreams of him as a prince. It is firmly ingrained in the setting of Faraway Castle and contains all of the magical properties of this world that have been set up in the other books. I would not recommend starting the series with this one, but it is well worth diving into these six novels and two novellas from the beginning with Ellie and the Prince.

Beatrice, a young nanny, is a humble girl living an ordinary life except when it comes to her occasional trips to the magical Faraway Castle resort with her Auntie Bella. On her first trip, she meets a boy who is friends with a lake monster and spends hours exploring the enchanted creatures and gardens that surround the far-off land. Years later, she returns and befriends the Gamekeeper, a mysterious faceless entity that she knows only as a disembodied voice that is filled with kindness. She has little time to distract herself with him, however, when she is tasked with being a caretaker to the rambunctious Princess Eddi, whose story was revealed in the previous book, The Mirror and the Curse. When Beatrice is finally free of Eddi's mischief, she has the misfortune of crossing paths with Win, another troublemaker who is on a dangerous quest to escort two legendary griffin eggs to safety.

One of the things that surprised me the most about The Beauty and the Griffin is that it started with the main character at only seven years old. I was a little baffled about how it could be a love story if she was only a child, but she grows up quickly, and the book has a long-lasting romance that defies the laws of space and time with many jumps between the past and present. Something else that makes this adaptation unique is that instead of switching perspectives between the two love interests, it is told from the points of view of Beatrice and her Fairy Godmother "aunt," Arabella. Arabella takes on the role of the Enchantress in this story, allowing readers to understand the story from varying angles. Although it was interesting to learn the Enchantress's perspective, I would have liked to see more of the Gamekeeper's thoughts since he was shrouded in mystery for most of the book even though his story is the most intricate and complex of all.

There is a lot that happens in this book, but it is written in a way that is easy to follow. It gets a little confusing at times, especially when it comes to the time travel aspect, but the beautiful fairy tale romance holds it all together and keeps the pages turning. I particularly enjoyed the dream sequences in which Beatrice is reunited with Prince Niel and shares an impossible love with him that seemed too good to be true, but she decided to indulge herself in it because she thinks it's just a dream. After all, it's the perfect escape for someone stuck watching over bratty kids all day! The griffins are another wonderful addition to the story, though the title is a bit misleading because they are not the love interests. Instead, they are two magical babies who bond with Beatrice and speak to her telepathically. Not only are they adorable, but they are determined to help everyone get their happy ending no matter what it takes.

The Beauty and the Griffin is a compelling and unique retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" that masterfully wraps up the Faraway Castle series. With its intricate storyline, lovable characters, and enchanting fairy tale elements, this book is a must-read for fans of the series. Although the official release date has yet to be announced, I highly recommend diving into the world of Faraway Castle from the beginning to experience the magic and wonder that JM Stengl has created. Some of my favorite books from this series include The Rose and the Briar and The Siren and the Scholar. Read some of these earlier books to prepare to be swept away by this thrilling conclusion, and get ready to fall in love with the enchanting characters and their stories.


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