Title: The Most Beautiful One: A Magical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Author: Elise Spencer
Pub Date: August 30th 2019
Something terrible is happening to all the beautiful maidens in the kingdom.
For years, there has been an odd notice posted every so often in the town square calling forth the most beautiful maiden in the land to serve the kingdom. The Queen decides which of the eligible ladies earns the feared and elusive title. After that, the chosen one disappears, never to be seen or heard from again. A few months later, the game is played all over again. Some say that the Queen boils the women alive to steal their youth, and others insist that they are sacrificed to a great dragon in the North to stop him from invading. The only certain thing, however, is that being beautiful is now a curse.
Belara has been terrified of coming of age for years now. Ever since she was little, people have been telling her that she is a beauty beyond compare. Over the last few years, they have said this with pity rather than admiration. Right after her birthday, the same notice is posted again. No one is surprised when Belara is sent to the palace and declared to be the most beautiful of all. She is dispatched to fates unknown by the Queen, who gives her one piece of advice: not everything is what it seems. Armed with years of careful education and everything she learned from her father’s library, Belara is determined not to meet the same fate as all the others.
The Most Beautiful One is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast featuring a vengeful fairy, a clean romance, and one enchanted monkey.
If you can’t tell by my reading habits I love discovering new fairy tale retellings. I’m not sure how many B&B retellings I’ve read alone this year but that number is growing steadily (likely I’ll read more before 2019 is over).
The Most Beautiful One is a different take on B&B compared to the other books I’ve read. I liked it but there was something missing here (what? – I don’t know). I liked the Beast and Belara well enough. One aspect that I can pinpoint which didn’t fulfill my reading experience was the ending. Belara’s behavior towards the Beast after the curse was broken was a little unsettling (he looked different—no longer a beast but a man— she had difficultly processing that information and instead treated him as if he were a complete stranger). I felt as if there were no resolution between them. I’m just going to assume it worked out well for them.
Overall, it’s a good book and I do look forward for more stories by this author.