Review: Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

by Justine Bergman
Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani

Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales by Soman Chainani
PUBLISHED: September 21, 2021 by HarperCollins
PAGES: 336
GENRE: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Retellings, Middle Grade



The Blurb

You think you know these stories, don’t you?

You are wrong.

You don’t know them at all.

Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that free hearts long kept tame, truths that explore life . . . and death.

A prince has a surprising awakening . . .

A beauty fights like a beast . . .

A boy refuses to become prey . . .

A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again.

New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.

The Review

Classics told in a way like never before, Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales is an upcoming compilation of dazzling retellings from the mind of Soman Chainani, intent on appealing to a modern audience. Within its pages are tales of blood and roses, bone-chilling howls in the night, the ugliness of arrogant beauty, the beauty of ugly truths, the magic of love, and more. While some are definitely more impactful than others, each and every yarn is told in such flowing, captivating prose, drawing readers into a realm of nostalgic allure. Structurally repetitive in nature, each is reminiscent of a beloved bedtime story, but oh so very different – charming witches, appalling beauties, the unbreakable bonds of found family, the possibilities found in impossibility, the list goes on and on.

Each of the stories is told with an enticing beginning, solid middle, and conclusive end, however there are a few that are vaguely open-ended. But what is a cautionary tale if not a guide into a dark forest to find your own path to goodness and happiness? Chainani paints these tales of his with such vivid, magnificent detail, making it too easy to lose yourself within and you’re left to ponder how the pages are flying by so swiftly. As I turned the final page, not only was I heartbroken, but I was instantly in need of more. I’m also excited to see the final illustrations that are peppered throughout, as the rough sketches included already add another level to the storybook feel of wonder.

Style and skill aside, I would be remiss not to make mention of the overall collective moral of Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales, and that would be that anything is possible. It is possible for a princess to be her own knight in shining armor. A prince need not marry the fairest maiden in the land, because it is possible to live happily ever after with a prince of their own. It is possible to break the cycle of inequality and blind hatred if your will is strong enough to weather the storm. It is possible to find true love, but only after recognizing your self worth and loving the person you are inside.

In today’s environment, I can’t think of better messages to pass onto the youth that pave the way to tomorrow’s future.

In contrast, while this book is marketed as middle grade, there are some themes I’d say are targeted towards a more mature audience; these including murder, child abuse, and predation. Nothing is particularly graphic in nature, but it is important to be aware of this.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of fascinating awe in their life. Because even as we age, it’s important to remember that we’re still allowed to believe in magic.

My Rating: 4

Note: A huge thank you to the author, publisher, and Megan Beatie for providing me with a complementary advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Author

Soman Chainani’s debut series, THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, has sold more than 3 million copies, been translated into 30 languages across 6 continents, and will be a major motion picture from Netflix in 2022.

Each of the six books in the series — THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL, A WORLD WITHOUT PRINCES, THE LAST EVER AFTER, QUESTS FOR GLORY,A CRYSTAL OF TIME, and ONE TRUE KING — have debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. Together the books have been on the print and extended lists for 38 weeks.

Soman has recently announced a new book, BEASTS & BEAUTY, coming September 21, 2021 from HarperCollins.

A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University’s MFA Film Program, Soman began his career as a screenwriter and director, with his films playing at over 150 film festivals around the world. He has been nominated for the Waterstone Prize for Children’s Literature, been named to the Out100, and also received the $100,000 Shasha Grant and the Sun Valley Writer’s Fellowship, both for debut writers.

Soman lives in New York City.


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