*I received a free copy of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: The Beast doesn’t always wait for Beauty. Sometimes, Beauty IS the Beast.
Princess Mirabella is betrothed to a repulsive old man a year after her mother’s death. She refuses the marriage, only to find out her betrothed is a sorcerer as well. He takes his revenge by transforming her into a savage and frightening beast, giving her an ultimatum: she has three years to solve the mystery of her curse—or die.
Exiled to her mother’s estate to hide the scandal, Mirabella learns that the sorcerer was not alone in keeping secrets. Her grandfather was murdered before Mirabella was born, and her mother’s death is looking less and less as if it came from natural causes. The only point in common to all their ruined lives: her father, the king.
Faced with a conflict between saving her family and saving her own life, the choices Mirabella makes will change the future of the kingdom—and magic—forever.
The Rose Queen is a beautiful and cleverly written reimagining of the tale of Beauty and the Beast: what if they were one and the same?
More than that though, here Alison McBain has created a new fairytale based on the old story. Here is the curse, the Beast, the rose, the youngest child of a wandering merchant and so forth. But McBain has taken these parts as mere reference points to build a new story of her own, with respectful nods to the old.
Instead of a tale of love against appearances, this is a more complex plot with a focus on duty and responsibility, and how we handle the hand we are dealt. Mirabelle is more than a princess: she makes a brave and complex heroine, with flaws and misjudgements, which all make her more human and more empathetic.
All of the oft-criticised plot holes in the source material are neatly resolved here by the different directions in which McBain steers the plot and the different motivations she gives her characters. With the addition of her own unique elements, like a box containing a cure, it becomes clear that this book is not bound by its inspiration and I had no idea where the plot would end up as it twisted along!
In fact, the only criticism I have here is that it doesn’t appear that the rest of the trilogy has been released yet, and I need them NOW!
Lovers of well-written, unique fairytales will adore this book and be as eager as I am to find out what happens next. Highly recommended!
Brina chafed her hands in a kindly manner, then creaked to her feet. She shuffled off to an adjoining room, and Mira sat before the fire and watched its flames flicker and dance.
She longed for such freedom. With her whole heart, she wished to be able to let herself go, to abandon the choking restraints of her days and to spring free. If only the king were someone different. If only she could be different, too. Someone unbound from the strictures of her station.
The fire popped and a log shifted, and the wish disappeared behind a golden flame. Illusion, all of it – a fancy for something more. The truth had been revealed today. The king was what he was. And she, too, was what she was. But what that meant to the outside world, she had no idea.
– Alison McBain, The Rose Queen
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