I remember fondly the days when as a high schooler I first entered the world of social media, and Facebook quizzes were all the rage! I also remember my repeated adolescent frustration at receiving the same result no matter how many “Which Disney Princess are you?” quizzes I took; because I like to read, I would forever be labeled as Belle. As an adult though, I don’t mind the likeness, and I have to say that Beauty & the Beast retellings are some of my favorites.
So, imagine my excitement a few months ago, when I was surfing Amazon for freebies and I found this gem: Before Beauty, a faith-based retelling of this classic story. I’m so glad that I stumbled on it because Brittany Fichter’s style of writing is incredibly engaging, and the allusions to the original fairytale are very creative. However, the stars of the show are most definitely the main characters: Ever & Isa.
“I have found in my humble experience, that when we hold positions of power, our mistakes often hurt more than just ourselves. They hurt others. It is something we must live with.”
Isa immediately captured me as a character, especially with the reinterpretation of her role as “beauty”. Her tragic backstory also creates an interesting link to the cursed prince, developing both of their characters even further. Her struggles to move past the way she has been mistreated by those around her, ultimately leading to her lack of self-confidence, is heartbreaking and realistic. It reminds all of us of the importance of looking beyond what we see, as no one can truly know the hardships another person carries inside.
And the cursed prince, Ever, is perhaps one of the best interpretations of the beast that I’ve read. His internal struggles are realistic and relatable, as you learn more about his relationship with his father and the pressures of his role as heir apparent. And of course, the development of his relationship with Isa, which transforms from guilt to love, paired with her transformation from hatred to forgiveness to love…it’s the perfect recipe for an epic love story.
“Our missteps aren’t powerful enough to thwart the carefully laid plans of this strange place or the Maker.”
Overall, I fell in love with their love story and the lessons it teaches about the importance of self-love and trust as the basis for a long lasting relationship. I have no trouble awarding it 5/5 stars, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of fairytale retellings, especially books like A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. You’ll love this reimagining of the tale as old as time.