Beauty and the Beast: Lost In A Book by Jennifer Donnelly

 

 

Smart, bookish Belle, a captive in the Beast’s castle, has become accustomed to her new home and has befriended its inhabitants. When she comes upon Nevermore, an enchanted book unlike anything else she has seen in the castle, Belle finds herself pulled into its pages and transported to a world of glamour and intrigue.  The adventures Belle has always imagined, the dreams she was forced to give up when she was a prisoner, seem within reach again.

The charming and mysterious characters Belle meets within the pages of Nevermore offer her sparkling conversation, a life of dazzling Parisian luxury, and even a reunion she never thought possible. Here Belle can have everything she has ever wished for. Be what about her friends in the castle? Can Belle trust her new companions inside the pages of Nevermore? Is Nevermore’s world even real? Belle must uncover the truth about the book before she loses herself in it forever.1

Just in time for the release of of the long awaited live action version of the beloved story of Beauty and the Beast.  Beauty and the Beast has and will always be my favourite movie and I’m fully expecting the live action version to deliver.  While I had taken a little hiatus from my avalanche of reading and book reviews I decided to start up again with an audiobook.  Little did I know that my phone was playing trips on me and when I selected this audiobook under the audiobook tab, it turned out to be an ebook.  When it comes to things like this I have made the mistake of changing my mind and returning something quickly thinking that it would make it all better.  Instead I had maxed out my check outs for the month and didn’t even get to enjoy my last check out.  Moving on…

Lost In A Book is an original Beauty and the Beast story feeding off the hype for the new release of the live action Beauty and the Beast.  Having the immense honour of being able to write a story with the magical background of Beauty and the Beast is not something to be taken lightly.  It is something that I would have assumed Disney would have had to approve, but surely this can’t be the case.

We all know the story of how Belle came to be at the castle with the Beast and the enchanted objects so the story wastes no time with that and jumping right into Belle’s stay at the castle and after her discovery of the enchanted rose.  Very little is known about Belle’s stay at the castle as the movie version of the events make things seem as if they occurred over a short period of time.  Belle has traded spots with her father, but her lifetime imprisonment with the angry Beast and the enchanted objects is difficult to come to terms with.  In an attempt to make Belle happy and a thanks for saving his life after the wolf attack the Beast gives Belle the library.  She is beyond thrilled with the library that has been making us swoon for years though in the book things are much more dark, drab and filthy.  We know this as we have to take the time to read as Belle, the enchanted objects and even the Beast pitch in to clean up the library.  It’s in the library that Belle discovers an enchanted book.

In many tales there is good and evil, there is life and death.  In Lost In A Book there are two sisters, Love and Death.  The sisters are playing a routine game of chess, Death taking her chance to cheat while her sister is distracted, though both sisters are fierce competitors.  Love has been keeping an eye on her Beast whom she still has hope that he will be able to find true love and break the curse.  Her sister, Death, decides to make things interesting by putting a wager on things.  Unable to back down from a wager and a gamble, Love increases the monetary bet that Belle will indeed be the one to break the curse.  As seen in the game of chess, neither sister likes to lose and neither is above cheating.  Death sends in her vultures to deliver the enchanted book which will take Belle to Nevermore, a magical place to make all her dreams come true and to escape the castle and the Beast forever.

The story jumps in and out of the land of Nevermore giving us those wonderful glimpses into the behind the scenes life at the castle, before once again whisking us off to Nevermore.  Lost In A Book is a mix between Beauty and the Beast and the Wizard of Oz.  The two stories, though they each have their merit, should be kept separated for the good of each other.  I would much prefer having read the story of Belle and the enchanted objects with the Beast in the castle, then a story of Belle and Nevermore.  The introduction of Nevermore brings adventure and magic to this already magical and moving story, but it also cheapens the story and it shows the characters in a much different light.  While the Beast doesn’t say much in the cartoon version, we know that in the live action and in many Beauty and the Beast stories, the Beast is actually a very well educated man.  Belle is one of the most inspirational of the Disney Princesses for an endless amount of reasons, but the Belle in Lost In A Book has been lost in translation.  The events of Lost In A Book take place in the middle of the story that we are familiar with.  While we can sympathize with Belle during her plight and her desire for escape, the whole scenario changes the heart warming story of Beauty and the Beast filled with magic and true love, to a story of sloppy seconds and a touch of “I guess it’s not so bad”.  Belle makes a series of poor choices in the land of Nevermore and falls victim to flashy objects, people and places forgetting those that were good to her and only remembering them when her life has turned to complete and utter shit.

The character of Death controls this story, and while the character of Love is very much a part of the wager, and the story is that true love prevails, Love is very much missing from this story in both presence and emotion.  I am completely disappointed with this story and sad to think that such a tale is receiving such recognition by riding the coat tails of a beloved Disney tale and the hype of the release of the live action version.  I can only imagine that this was a last minute decision, slapping together some nostalgic moments with our well known characters and punching it in the gut with some new and wacky magical adventures.  Not to mention the poor editing job where entire words are missing sentences.

The only thing that should be lost is this book in the bottom of a dollar bin nevermore to be heard of again, and so it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that I welcome you tonight.  And now, I invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents… anything but this book.

  1. Book summary courtesy of Jennifer Donnelly’s Webpage.
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One thought on “Beauty and the Beast: Lost In A Book by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. Hagar Magdy says:

    I’m now really excited to get this book! Great review 👍

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