Review: Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

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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.

Rating: 4 Stars

Beauty and the Beast is a classic story, there’s no denying it. Within my world, it’s a story that has been told over and over again, whether it was read aloud from a storybook or it was through a viewing of the 1991 animated Disney film. Now that there is a live action version coming, there are quite a few companion books being released. I wanted to read this one in particular because I admired Jennifer Donnelly’s Waterfire Saga (mermaids were one of my favorite mythological creatures as a child).

I thought the premise was very interesting. Belle finds a book in the Beast’s library that offers her a way out of the castle, if only for a short time. What she doesn’t know is that it is all part of a game that Love and Death, here personified as two sisters, are playing with her and the Beast as their pawns.

The idea of tempting Belle with a way out of the castle was as very good one. While this takes place shortly after her episode in the woods with the wolves, and she and the Beast have begun to warm to each other, she’s still very much lonely and a prisoner within the castle. She misses her father fiercely and the life that she could have had is no longer an option so far as she knows. Death chose her trap well.

It’s Belle’s state of mind at this point in the overall fairy tale that allows me to overlook how silly she acted during some of the book. There were clearly some shenanigans going on that, being a brilliant girl, Belle ought to have seen, but she didn’t because she was so blinded by the thing she thought she wanted: an escape.

Besides the adventures that Belle took into the realm of Nevermore, we got a look into what life might have been like in the castle, which I appreciated. Favorite characters were present and their personalities were much the same, though I think the character that was given even more “umph” was Cogsworth. He dropped names about soldiers he’d met and famous battles he’d been involved with better than anyone I’ve ever heard of.

The ending was somewhat loose, as the Nevermore story/mystery was solved, but the overall tale is still ongoing. The Beast is still a Beast, Belle is still technically his prisoner, but at the end there is even more hope than there was at the beginning. I almost wish that Jennifer Donnelly would be allowed to do the novelization of the movie because her writing style would be just the right thing to set off one of my favorite stories of all time.

 

 

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