books, book review, fantasy, dark fantasy, young adult, beauty and the beast, twisted fairy tales, As Old As Time, Liz Braswell

(Disney 2017) As Old As Time: Liz Braswell

Since the arrival of things like Once Upon A Time, Chris Colfer's Land of Stories book series and Wicked the musical. There has been a large upsurge in the realm of twisted fairy tales, from another point of view. Any point of view, as long as it is different to the original. Even very slightly. Twisted Fairy tales are becoming the newest, hottest commodity in the fantasy world. New authors cropping up constantly.

As Old As Time is one of these spin-offs. A series which has already covered both Cinderella and Aladdin. Bring to life a reinvention of Beauty and the Beast. From the point of view, that Belle's mother was the one to curse the beast. That Belle herself is the only one who could break the curse, as she is blood. Even if she herself does not have the power to enchant.

This story also brings to light just how young Beast was when he was cursed by the Enchantress. Just a young child, who was expected after his parent's deaths to act like a man. To decide things, as a man. Perhaps a stretch far too far for the Enchantress to ask such things of someone so young. Knowing the flower blooms to his 21st year should give you a clue he was young, but how young may surprise you.

Maurice still is an inventor, he still goes off to the market. Finding himself lost, and trapped in the castle. Gaston is still a boorish pig, demanding that Belle is his. Belle is still fearless, doing the right thing for her father. Yet the rest is all different, as we slide between Maurice and his wife before Belle was born. A war between those people with magic and those who are born normal. Magical beings just disappearing in the middle of the night, their belongings and food still laying in their homes waiting for them. Never to be seen again, the King and Queen banishing all beings from their kingdom. Yet, of course, when plague hits. The Enchantress is rushed back to help them and their son, hardly surprising when she refuses to. Leaving the boy with no parents, before her last visit. When he spurns her, she sees him as no better than his parents and curses him. All to protect her young child, Belle.

Who then, stumbles into the Castle. Touches the Rose, and turns it to ash under her fingertips. Yet, all is not lost. As Belle starts to have visions of her mother, which could lead her and Beast into discovering the real truth behind what has happened here. As they search the library for any hint of the past. To rescue some form of future.

This is a refreshing take on the now rather tired old storyline. The book reissued around the same time as the fresh Disney movie production to gain as many sales as possible, great marketing. I understand that the Enchantress being Belle's mother is more based on the Grim's Fairy Tales, although I have to admit to not having read them since I was quite small myself. I liked the deep, in-depth look at Belle's past. Giving her the chance to rescue Beast, not the other way around. I liked that (in the end) Gaston has a change of heart to a better person. I loved the idea of the magical beings disappearing, and the Enchantress fighting back for her family. To me, it gave it a very Wicked vibe. As well as a style of writing that lends itself to children or older readers.

Well worth the read.

8/10 stars.

Sarah

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