Title: Before Beauty (First Book in the Trilogy)
Author: Brittany Fichter
Blurb: Prince Everard’s father spent the boy’s youth forging the prince into a warrior. Upon the king’s death, however, Everard realizes he’s lost himself somewhere along the way, and in his pain, makes a decision that brings a dark curse upon both him and the great Fortress that has so long guarded the people of Destin.
The prince’s sin doesn’t simply affect those of his citadel, however. Isa, the daughter of a local merchant, has suffered the prince’s hasty temper before, and it changed her life forever. When Everard’s final outburst cuts off his people’s source of protection with the curse, he demands that she, a crippled commoner, come to help him break it. All the while, Destin’s northern enemy crouches at the foot of the Fortress’s mountain, waiting for the right moment to capture the stronghold that has stood for a thousand years.
Can Ever and Isa move past their brokenness to save Destin together, or will they and their beloved kingdom remain under darkness forever?
If retellings are your thing, then check Brittany Fichter out asap. She’s quickly becoming a QUEEN of retellings. Prolific is not enough to describe her. Look below for a few more titles in her Classical Kingdom Series.
Before Beauty–her Beauty and the Beast retelling–is one of the most beautiful and unique spin-offs of this classical fairytale that I have read in a long time. There is very little “this has been done before” and the transformation of both characters unfolds in a compelling and fresh way.
Characters/Voice: Prince Everard and Isa each have unique voices, back story, personality and roles in this story. Each are unique and relatable and I loved them right away. Isa, who is disabled, brings vulnerability, transparency, and un-dealt with anger to the table that is completely identifiable, while Everard, who must conquer who he truly is–the boy he was designed to be or the boy his father wants him to be –brings reflection, sympathy, and agony as you watch his growth. So good!
Pacing: Does this book keep you up late at night? YES. Don’t read at night unless you want to get caught up in their story, their romance, their battles, their enemies, and their future. The story moves at a perfect pace, increasing with each chapter. I really believe it moves so quickly because it touches on so many deep and real human emotions.
Plot: Perfectly executed and unique. The idea of the “Fortress” and the raging mind battles between Prince Everard and his enemy are a fresh kind of power-set and makes for an interesting setting. Why Isa is the one to be selected, not to mention their past encounters coming in the present time, makes for a complex plot with large pay-offs. I was entirely satisfied and wanted more.
Setting: Fichter’s world building for Destin and the surrounding kingdoms were all well done. The land was easily pictured and likable. The history of Destin was easily understood and believable, which makes it easy to follow the story and its motives.
Themes: This story spins all kinds of universal truths of goodness, humility, faith, hope, strength, identity, and more. I love how it’s all weaved together in the characters. It’s also appropriate for all MG/YA ages and can be a great alternative to other retellings that have adult content or an upper YA/NA feel.
Brittany Fichter obviously has a gift and passion for retellings. I look forward to checking out the rest in her series! Check out titles below.
Nova, signing off.