Author: Donna Jo Napoli
Release Date: November 1, 2000
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Cover Designer: Russell Gordon
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Fairy tales
Summary: Orasmyn is the prince of Persia and heir to the throne. His religion fills his heart and his mind, and he strives for the knowledge and leadership his father demonstrates. But on the day of the Feast of Sacrifices, Orasmyn makes a foolish choice that results in a fairy's wretched punishment: He is turned into a beast, a curse to be undone only by the love of a woman. Thus begins Orasmyn's journey through the exotic Middle East and sensuous France as he struggles to learn the way of the beast, while preserving the mind of the man. This is the story of his search, not only for a woman courageous enough to love him, but also for his own redemption.
One of my friends once said that Donna Jo Napoli has her “good” books and her “weird” books. I can’t compare since this is the only book I’ve read by her, but it’s definitely one of the weird ones.
First of all, this retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” was well-written and well-researched (though apparently she did more research on lions than on history). The fact that the Beast was a Prince of Persia was a unique twist. It was also unique in the fact that the Beast was completely animal instead of an animal/man hybrid. In most reviews of this book, people said that the focus on Orasmyn’s religious practices was unnecessary, but I thought it was very interesting, and was one of the very few things I liked about this book.
Yes, very few. Napoli described Orasmyn's leonine bodily functions in too much detail. There was one scene that I won’t name since this is a spoiler-free review, but at that part I just thought “Did I really need to read about that?” It was too graphic for any book, YA or not.
I didn’t like the pace either. It was very slow (nearly slow to the point of being dull) until Belle comes in, and then the last 50 pages of the book are pretty rushed. The book literally ends at the exact moment Orasmyn turns back into a man. I would have liked it better if we could have seen Orasmyn and Belle’s relationship develop a little more, instead of just reading about Orasmyn as a lion.
Also, I think that since there was a glossary of Farsi and Arabic words in the back of the book, it was unnecessary for the meanings to be given in the text.