Audience: Young Adult
There is blood under my fingernails.
– first sentence
This is a fabulous retelling of Beauty & the Beast. In Emberfall, the prince and everyone who lives on the castle grounds are cursed to live the same season over and over again. Towards the end of the season, Rhen (the prince) becomes a beast. Over the years, he has killed many villagers, but his captain of the guard (Grey) has learned how to keep the remaining people safe. As in the original, the only way to break the curse is for someone to fall in love with Rhen. Grey brings girls from the modern world to the castle in an attempt to find someone who will break the curse. One day he ends up kidnapping Harper. Harper isn’t like any of the other girls Grey kidnapped over the years (of course). But she also isn’t your typical “Belle” – she has cerebral palsy and she loves horses more than books.
Chapters are told in alternating viewpoints between Rhen and Harper and it’s fun to see what they’re thinking about how the other one behaves. There is adventure, intrigue, and a great deal of violence. There are forces outside the castle grounds that threaten Emberfall. Harper helps Rhen and Grey come up with solutions. She is feisty and smart and doesn’t give up easily.
I loved this story and the end was surprising even though I thought I knew how it would go. I am looking forward to the next book.