Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. I review well-written books, highlighting what makes each good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it a worthy read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.
I want to adore every book I read, but that is never possible. I was given a complimentary Kindle copy in exchange for an honest review, and I am living up to my agreement in sharing this review on my site.
Today's book gets a mixed review from me. Some elements of Ann Hunter's writing and storytelling are skillful, but Others, for me, not so much. I shall share what worked for me and what did not in this reworking of Beauty and the Beast.
The Subtle Beauty: Crowns of the Twelve Book 1 by Ann Hunter
A cursed prince. A vain beauty. Glory is the seventh daughter of Balthazar, High King of the Twelve Kingdoms. Glory hopes that - of all her sisters - she can escape the fate of a loveless marriage. But on the night she plans to elope with the royal falconer, her world comes crashing down: Her father announces Glory's betrothal to Eoghan of the Blood Realm - a prince no one has ever seen. The prince is said to be a recluse, cursed and deformed by the gods for the sins of his power-hungry father. Yet when Glory is trapped in Blackthorn Keep she discovers that not everything is what she expected. An insulting gryphon, a persistent ghost, and a secret plan to usurp the prince keep Glory reeling. Can she overcome her vanity to learn that what you want isn’t necessarily what you need—and save the cursed prince?
Now, no book is "perfect," whatever that may be. No such thing. Any book might be strong in some areas and not so much in others. I read as a writer who learns from how the book author applies skill (or fails to do so), and as a reader who loves to get swept deep into a captivating other world.
So what aspects of the book did I find enjoyable, and which turned me off?
Good retelling of Beauty and the Beast
I happen to love reworkings of traditional stories, folklore and fairy tales. I'm glad I read this, and overall I feel it was a worthy retelling of the familiar story.
Fabulous "show don't tell"
As writers, we all hear "show, don't tell" at least a hundred times. It means don't tell the reader it's cold. Make her shiver along with the characters. Hunter does this beautifully.
You know the baby was burn with a club fuut and a strange mouth, but you won't realize right away how the curse has affected him.
Good world building
For the most part, the world Ann Hunter built felt real even though it is a realm of fantasy. I didn't find the world of the story as engrossing as some others, but nor did I feel I was in a closet with the lights trned out wanting to see where I am.
Hunter did a great job helping the reader sense the world, including sounds, sights and smells.
What didn't work for me
Many flat character
while a couple of characters felt like whole people, most felt more like pancakes. Xander lacked dimension in this book, though he was much more dimensional in another volume in the series.. The 7 daughters of the king who each represented a deadly sin were nothing more than the poster child for their flaws.
OK so before I get hate mail from the author, here's what I'm getting at. Every book will have principle characters and minor ones. But I feel that even those with momentary entrances or small roles to play can come to life and feel real even if the reader never gets to know them.
I don't expect every single one to pop off the page, but I do want to feel they're more than placeholders or a-sided beings.
Part 1 got gory
The gory descriptions of what happened at Xander's hands when he took the enchanted word were in fact overly vivid for my taste. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, it won't bother you.
I very nearly put it down after that, except I was committed to read the whole thing and review. Aftger part 1, there isn't all the gore. So if you're not one who loves reading about heads being chopped off and seeing the blood etc., you might skip part 1.
Summary of Part 1: Xander wants to prove his worthiness to be with his princess, so he makes a bad bargain and gets an enchanted sword that feeds on death and gets uglier and nastier as it helps him slaughter.
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Ronda Del Boccio
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