July 27, 2012

The Rose and the Beast

THE ROSE AND THE BEAST by Francesca Lia Block (Harper Collins, 2000)
GENRE: Fantasy / Fairy Tales
HONORS: L.A. Times Best Seller

REVIEW: The Rose and the Beast is an unexpected collection. Each story is an adaptation of a fairy tale ranging from the popular, ("Snow," a variation on Snow White) to the less well-known, ("Bones," Block's Bluebeard). As in much of Francesca Lia Block's work, the language is lovely and poetic, with a nebulous quality that gives each story the feeling a Impressionist painting. Though not immediately obvious in most cases, the original tales form strong foundation for each adaptation, providing Block with a platform on which to explore themes such as the variable nature of love and friendship, as well as darker issues, such as abuse and alienation. More appropriate for adolescents 13 and over, The Rose and the Beast is a subtle, emotional collection, one that deals with potentially difficult subject matter, while rarely handing the reader a clear-cut solution to any of the situations depicted. That said, the stories are haunting and beautiful, and will reward the reader who takes the time to sit and ponder them.

OPINION: This is a wonderful collection of literary fairy tale adaptations. Each story, written with Block's characteristic linguistic care, skims the surface of the original, while hinting at the depths beneath. A strong addition to any tween collection, it is a book that requires the reader's full emotional and intellectual attention. It would probably be most enjoyed by readers already familiar with the world of fairy tales and their adaptations and / or fans of Block's other work.

IDEAS: A great book for comparative discussion. The tales of full of hints, clues and variations on the original fairy tales that inspired them. Also a great suggestion for fans of Block's other collections, particularly Girl Goddess #9 and How to (un)Cage a Girl.

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