The Compulsive Reader: Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Cameron Dokey

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Belle: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast by Cameron Dokey

Belle lives a comfortable life with her merchant father, loving mother, and two elder, beautiful sisters. Since she was very young, she has always felt invisible in the shadow cast by her sisters who are much more beautiful and elegant than she. Because of this, she chooses to pour all of her energy into her woodcarving while her sisters attend parties and balls and make a place for themselves in Society.

Then all of their lives are shattered when Belle’s father's ships are lost at sea, and with them all of their wealth. Belle and her family are forced to sell everything and retreat through the mysterious woods into the country to a much simpler life. But one stormy night drives Belle's father to a mysterious manor in the heart of the woods, home to a magnificent beast and Heartwood tree, which, if carved, will show the heart's desire. Now Belle must journey to the Heartwood, to face the beast, her insecurities, and her destiny.

Once again Cameron Dokey dazzles readers into the realm of magic with her ability to fashion more descriptive and palpable tales out of beloved fairy tale classics. Belle's lyrical and starkly honest voice is mesmerizing, especially as she divulges all of her insecurities and describes her sisters without loathing or outright jealousy, but depicts them as they truly are. Though Dokey takes her time setting the scene of the story, her vivid characters and imagery make the wait worthwhile until Belle faces the Beast. The romance is quick and sweet in classic fairy tale fashion, and the conclusion is wonderfully light and romantic. Belle is more than a romance and tale of first impressions inner beauty, but one about finding self confidence in who you are, making it another wonderful addition to the Once Upon a Time... series.


Emily said...

Hmm, I don't think this is one of the books I would like, but thanks for the review!

Meredith said...

I cannot wait for the book! I love this series, and I love Beauty and the Beast. So this looks like it could be the best of both worlds!


Anonymous said...

I always look forward to Cameron Dokey's retellings because she is such a fantastic writer and she does every one so well.

I cannot wait for her story of Mulan!

I wish we could see more of her outside of this series.

Okie said...

Sounds fun...I'm having a hard time sorting through the numerous "fairy tale retellings" that have been going around lately.

Which are the best? Which aren't worth glancing at?

The Compulsive Reader said...


The Simon Pulse Once Upon A Time... series is pretty good. Here's a list of all the books in the series: http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-a-Time-Series-Published-by-Simon-Pulse/lm/R2S0WNBYE363IS/ref=cm_lm_byauthor_title_full

Also, A Curse Dark as Gold is one of the best retellings of Rumplstiltskin I've ever read.

Black Pearls by Louise Hawes is a collection of short retellings with a little bit of a darker edge.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier is loosely based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses and is excellent. Another one by Marillier is Daughter of the Forest, which is very good, but technically classified as adult.

And finally, although I haven't read it yet, I have it and have heard great things about, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George is another.

These are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head! I hope that helps!