Title: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Published: January 31st, 2017 by Disney Press
An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of.
But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again.
This deluxe hardcover novel expands upon the beautiful story and world seen in the new Walt Disney Studios’ film, Beauty and the Beast.
The Review (mild spoilers if you haven’t seen Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast):
Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales and Disney’s animated version is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that when I saw this book at the bookstore, my first reaction was to squeal and jump in place (well, internally jump in place, but the squealing was out loud), and I immediately bought it. But maybe my expectations were too high, so even though it is far from being a bad book, it is not as great as I thought it would be.
Lost in a Book fits somewhere after the Beast rescues Belle from the wolves and gives her the huge library that we’ve always wanted. It expands the original story without actually changing or repeating things that we already know. Trapped in the Beast’s castle, Belle is understandably frustrated with losing her freedom, especially when, more than anything, she wants “adventure in the great wide somewhere”. So when the Beast gave her the library, she spends most of her time there, and she eventually stumbled across a book called Nevermore.
I really like how this book explores more about the curse and also the Beast’s backstory, and does it in a realistic and believable way. Beast’s childhood is revealed, and it explains how Beast ended up being the arrogant guy that he was before he was cursed. There is a more detailed explanation on the curse and the enchantress, which I think is a very interesting take on the story. I like how it gives more insight on Belle’s life in the Beast’s castle, her interactions with the other characters and how her feelings for the Beast change over time.
When I read Lost in a Book, I hadn’t watched the live action remake so in my head, the characters are portrayed by their animated versions rather than by Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Because of that, I feel that Belle and the Beast acted somewhat out of character. Disney’s animated version depicted the Beast as a fierce, serious guy who eventually shows his kinder side. So I was a little thrown when I read about how Beast tried making jokes and acted kinda like a spoiled child rather than an angry and arrogant …well, beast. And Belle also didn’t feel like Belle, I guess? For someone who reads so much and I assume that she’s very clever, Belle is not very observant, and I say this because more than a few chapters ended with “Belle didn’t notice….” or “Belle didn’t see…”. Of course, I’m not saying she should have eyes in the back of her head, but I feel like there are better ways of telling the readers that other characters are doing something out of Belle’s sight?
The way Lost in a Book is written doesn’t really appeal to me for some reason. For a fairy tale retelling, or maybe ‘addition’ to a fairy tale is the better term, it doesn’t feel very enchanting or magical. The writing style is very simple, and even though I mostly didn’t mind, it felt a little off at times, like it didn’t really fit with the story. Or maybe it’s because I just read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle?
Even though I wasn’t blown away by Lost in a Book, I still appreciate the new additions to my favorite fairy tale. It delves further into the familiar story of Beauty and the Beast and gives more insight to our favorite characters. If you’re a fan of Beauty and the Beast, you should definitely read this book 🙂
“Isn’t that what a good story does? It pulls you in and never lets you go.”
― Jennifer Donnelly,