Book Review: Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty and the Werewolf

Posted January 6, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult

This book came from the library, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.

Book Review: Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty and the Werewolf

Beauty and the Werewolf

by Mercedes Lackey

five-stars

Series: Five Hundred Kingdoms #6

Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Invasion, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Bastion, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Arcanum 101, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest.

Genres: Fantasy, Romance

This Hardcover has 329 pages and was published by Harlequin Luna on October 18, 2011. Discover more about it at Goodreads. You can also buy it at Amazon

Sixth in the Five Hundred Kingdoms fairy tale series. The basic tale here is based on Beauty and the Beast with Bella as the merchant-class beauty and Duke Sebastian as the fantastic beast.

My Take

The primary theme is Beauty and the Beast with a touch of Snow White and adds in a combination of other fairy tales — a bit of Red Riding Hood — the threat of the wolf is rather obvious(!), and Cinderella comes to mind with the “wicked” stepmother and the two stepsisters, although the only toil Bella engages in is managing the house.

I do like Bella. She stands up for herself while having compassion for others. The duke was unexpected with his retiring nature; the consideration was expected. Of course, I also enjoyed the organizing and mucking about in the still room that helps Bella pass the time.

Lackey has created a lovely twist for this series with her interpretation of Tradition. I just love how she’s encapsulated the various fairy tales into the Tradition’s paths. Pulling the “possibilities” into the story, making one aware of the standard expectations and then Lackey “twisting” it, and off we go on yet another — unexpectedly expected — path.

I do recommend this series to anyone who enjoys fairy tales — you’ll certainly recognize aspects of Disney’s interpretation of Beauty and the Beast!

The Story

It’s the naughty Bella who has coaxed her stepsisters to sneak into the Wool Guild Ball, distracting their mother with forgotten treasures she has found in her father’s warehouse.

In a cheerful mind the next day, Bella fulfills her duties and decides to tramp into the forest to visit with Grann,y and as soon as the kitchen staff realizes her destination, they put all sorts of special treats in Bella’s basket as Bella swirls herself into her father’s old red, hooded riding cloak — well, Bella has no desire to be mistaken for a deer!

It’s on this trek that she encounters Eric who attempts to force himself upon her, but Bella, secure in her father’s status, gives it right back to him, causing him to back off. But, it’s that exchange that causes her doom. Late that afternoon, as Bella is hiking back to town, a hungry wolf attacks, and even though Bella manages to beat him off, it still manages to get its teeth into her foot.

Bella manages to get home only to be dragged from her bed in the morning by order of the King’s Guard to be taken from her home and imprisoned at the ducal manor for the next three months.

An imprisonment that will prove to be quite eye-opening.

The Characters

Isabella “Bella” Beauchamps is the oldest daughter in the Beauchamps house with the requisite stepmother and twin stepsisters, Amber and Pearl. The worst that can be said of the situation is that the stepmother, Genevieve, is concerned about appearance and status and enjoys her “sickbed” status while leaving household management in Bella’s hands. The stepsisters are mindless and quite content to follow their mother’s lead, but they also like Bella. Henri Beauchamps is Bella’s father and a well-to-do merchant trader with the ear of the king.

Granny is a Herb Woman and wisewoman who tends to the health of those who can’t afford a doctor. She lives out in the forest in her tiny cottage. Godmother Elena cares for this kingdom and explains the Tradition to Bella. The Mirror Servant is the green face in Godmother Elena’s mirror. While he is very useful in screening callers for the godmother, he’s very handy at research as well.

Duke Sebastian suffers from a curse which the King does not want anyone to know about. So Sebastian chooses to immerse himself in his studies in his country manor and leave the management of his estate to Eric.

Eric von Teller is the bastard son of the late duke and now works for Sebastian as his Woodsman and Guardian — someone must ensure that Sebastian is locked up for the three days of the month he turns beast! Eric has a terrible reputation as a womanizer and takes a firm stance on poachers in His Grace’s forests. Abel is Bella’s alter ego as she dresses up in Sebastian’s hand-me-downs and apprentices herself to Eric, learning woodcraft and how to use a crossbow.

The servants at the Manor are all spirits and Bella has the happy thought of asking them all to tie a token on a sleeve so she, Sebastian, and Eric will know where and if they are present. The outdoor workers wear bunches of leaves while the indoor servants wear scarves: Sapphire becomes her lady’s maid and Verte seems to be the steward. The kitchen staff incorporate herbs onto their armbands with Thyme as the head chef.

The Cover and Title

In spite of the red of Bella’s hooded cloak, the cover is cold with its wintry chill as the wolf howls on his rocky perch, the castle in the background, and a full moon overhead. The brown-haired Bella herself is quite voluptuous in her red flowing skirt and her cream chemise parted to expose the breasts almost overflowing the black corset she wears.

An interesting use of font-size and color in displaying the author’s name in its huge size and metallic silver while the white title is so much smaller but in greater contrast against the deep red-orange background. The essentials of the title are correct for, at heart, it is a tale of Beauty and the Werewolf.


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