Of Beast and Beauty (Daughters of Eville #1) by Chandra Kahn
Length: 310 pages
Recommended reader age:
Publisher: Neverwood Press 2019
About the author:
Chandra Hahn is a bestsellling Young Adult author and has had books on the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller lists.
Originally from Seattle, she currently lives in Wisconsin, and uses her experience as a librarian, bookseller and children’s pastor to make sure her books really appeal to a teenage audience.
Read more at chandrahahn.com
Rosalie: Adopted daughter of Lady Eville and betrothed to the Prince of Baist.
Prince Xander: Crown Prince of Baist with a reputation as a cruel and short tempered man.
Yasmin Nueva: The original bride to be, rich, self important and a typical dainty princess.
Lady Eville: Adoptive mother to Rosalie and the 6 other orphans. Determined to seek revenge on all 7 kindgoms for unknown events in the past.
Plot summary, spoiler free I promise:
The novel begins with an introduction to Rosalie and learning more about her marriage to the Prince of Baist, plus small snippets about the Daughters of Eville and their individual powers. Through her we learn more about the Kingdoms, how magic works in this realm, and begin to get a sense of the other characters through their treatment of her.
As beast attacks increase, her dreams are full of death and violence and events seem to show enemies on all sides. We follow her through the kingdoms on a hunt for the beast, and as Baist hovers on the brink of war she must use all of her skills and courage to stay alive, while wrestling with her heart.
I dove into this with great expectations and a preconceived idea of how the plot was going to go. Which was obviously a huge mistake as I kept trying to see parallels to the story of Beauty and the Beast that I know from the Disney film, this ultimately led to me ruining the book for myself as I never let the author tell her own story. Despite the book name, Rosalie being beautiful and a few magical beasts, it had nothing much in common with it’s namesake. I still thought it was great, but also disappointed in how little it followed or drew parallels to the well known story. Even the original tale had very little to do with this book.
Having said that though I loved this book, especially the character introductions and scene setting at the start. The insight into the Daughters of Eville and how the rest of the population viewed them was so well done and left me with so many questions about what Lady Eville had done to turn a whole nation against her, and what had happened to cause her need to seek revenge in such a dramatic manner.
I loved how different all the daughters were, and through this how the author managed to give a fantastic overview of how magic works as well as an introduction to magical creatures of all shapes and sizes. I also loved the inclusion of herbal medicine and the way in which the author drip fed more information about the world as the book progressed.
I did however spend pretty much all of the book confused as to how Rosalie came to marry Xander, while the desire for her mother to seek revenge is clear, there was little in the way of clarity as to how and why she held power over the King of Baist (among others). Even after the reveal I was still left a little lost, and briefly incredibly concerned that incest was involved. IT’S NOT DON’T PANIC, I just got myself confused, but I do feel like the author could have been a little clearer with use of names rather than referring to characters as “X’s mother”.
There were however many incredible twists and past events that I did not see coming, primarily because the author is good at keeping facts close to her chest until the very last moment. In some parts this was frustrating as I couldn’t really get to grips with some characters due to this, and I felt a little like some of the reveals could have been made earlier as some events dragged out a bit.
I loved all the characters though! Rosalie was perfectly captured as a sort of anti-princess, she is tough and determined with some serious skills, and throughout the book you can see her fighting with her own thoughts and feelings and those taught by her mother. Xander too was not as he first appeared, in fact all of the characters had many layers and hidden attributes, which I thought perfectly showed how all of us have different sides to us that we show depending on the situation.
Overall I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels and remastered fairy tales.
“I believe a witch is nothing more than what people are afraid of and do not comprehend”