A truly original take on Beauty the Beast Prince Orasmyn is heir to the throne of Persia, and is deeply religious and gentle, though intensely proud When he makes a foolish mistake, he is turned into a lion by a pari, and will remain in that shape until he is loved by a woman Napoli treats the beast in a highly realistic manner he is very much an animal, albeit one who remembers what it was to be human. I really wanted to like this book, the interesting twist in being told from the male perspective, in plot elements by making the curse have a religious reason, the Muslim overtones with the different culture.Right away I was getting irritated with the constant vocabulary words being fed to me and quickly defined The relationship he has with his parents, especially his father and his part within the curse is interesting and then never fleshed out or picked up again.I mentally rebelled again a prince protagonist who would think he was rescuing a rape victim and would need to struggle with his own desires at seeing the normally culturally hidden places of skin She turns out to be a djinn about to curse him, but still Its understandable that a love story between a Beast and a woman would hint at bestiality but this book does a little than hint, making it an element, before we even meet his love With very little inward struggle illustrating for us how much he really is a beast I suppose he almost immediately finds two very willing lionesses Can you say icky He struggles been bloodlust for Belle and just plain lust, in icky ways to give example or not to give exampleyeah, not.Not to my taste, I did finish it, but to see how far she take that element not, perhaps, as far as some, but further than I wanted to go.Would definitely be a major discussion at a book club but I would not recommend, especially not to the targeted YA readers. Meet The Beast Before There Was Beauty Orasmyn Is The Prince Of Persia And Heir To The Throne His Religion Fills His Heart And His Mind, And He Strives For The Knowledge And Leadership His Father Demonstrates But On The Day Of The Feast Of Sacrifices, Orasmyn Makes A Foolish Choice That Results In A Fairy S Wretched Punishment He Is Turned Into A Beast, A Curse To Be Undone Only By The Love Of A Woman Thus Begins Orasmyn S Journey Through The Exotic Middle East And Sensuous France As He Struggles To Learn The Way Of The Beast, While Also Preserving The Mind Of The Man This Is The Story Of His Search, Not Only For A Woman Courageous Enough To Love Him, But Also For His Own Redemption What is it about Beauty and the Beast There is something about the tale, even the Disney version of the story I know it s Disney, I know I know the Disney movie ends with the girl who wants than this provenical life getting married But there is something about it, even in Disney form Maybe, the Disney success is because of the artwork and music, or because Belle likes to read, or because Belle does, in fact, save the Beast at the end Cinderella may be the most cultral diverse fairy tale, but Beauty and the Beast seems to be famous.I know that the BB tales are believed to be, in some circles, stories that get women, young girls really, use to the idea of marriage, especially marriage to a stranger I ve read various versions my favorite by far being East of the Sun, West of the Moon I ve read several French versions those salon ladies went to town on this tale , including the one where the prince is turned into a beast because he turns down the sexual advances of the fairy I ve read some of the novel length treatments, including Robin McKinley s two versions, both of which are excellent.Most of these stories are told from the woman s point of view and very little is told about Beast.Napoli changes that with her book Beast Most of the story focuses on the adventures of Beast prior to his meeting his Belle don t worry, that s covered in the book as well Perhaps the most compelling sequence of the book, as well as the saddest, is when Beast, here in the form of a lion, tries to get use to his new form He knows that he can no longer be with people, so he tries hanging with the lions This does not work He is not a lion born, but a lion made and this brings a host of problems What Napoli seems to be doing with this sequence and the back story is showcasing what it means to belong as well as what it means to be an animal or human For the Beast is not an animal, even if he is no longer wholly human The Beast tries to become the total opposite of what he was prior to his transformation, and this doesn t quite work It can t work because while we change, we never fully lose what we were at any given point What Beast is trying to do for much of the book is combine the animal and human part of what he is, the dual side that most people have.Napoli s book has been challenged and banned in various schools This is undoubtably due to the Beast s behavior He gets rather friendly with two female lions While this raises eyebrows, as I am sure it was intended to, it does make sense Take a horny seventeen year old, put him in the body of a lion, and then present him a female lion in heat What do you think he is going to do What comes across quite clearly in the rather subdued description is the Beast s uncertainity and uncomfortness with what he has done Here, it seems that Napoli is going back to the old story, but instead of dealing with the question of marriage, it becomes a question of sex She seems to be addressing the questions of revulsion, pleasure, and embarassment that surrond the sexual act.It makes a rather interesting inversion of the actual tale. I received an audiobook copy of this book through Audiofile Sync s summer reading for teenagers program absolutely free of charge with no strings attached This is my honest review I loved this take on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast The blend of old and new elements was smooth and made perfect sense within the confines of the story I especially liked how Orasmyn was turned into an actual beast a lion and not just a human like beast that can talk like in the Disney version of the story It was interesting seeing how Orasmyn adjusted to his new form and I loved watching him try to navigate life as a lion, which was apparently not easy for someone who wasn t born as a lion and that makes sense Read the rest of my review on my blog. Interesting retelling of Beauty and the Beast from the Beast s point of view Beast is a Persian prince who gets turned into a lion Lots of little details about Islam and life in ancient Persia, but way too much focus on bodily functions from the point of view of a real animal all lions do is eat, sleep and fornicate, right A bit graphic in parts, even downright yucky sometimes I would never give this to my children to read I would have eliminated one scene completely before ever calling it YA That said, I have to say I still liked it for adults The setting was real, the characters fascinating, the plot really well done I knew what was going to happen, but I still couldn t stop reading to find out how Napoli would make it work. To be honest I did not finish this book The beginning was great right up until the main character changes from a man into a beast Right after that he mates with two lioness and that was a little too much of a beast for me to like I skipped ahead a bit something that I never do and it didn t seem to get any better I skipped to the end to see if I should finish it and in a matter of a couple sentences the beast turns back into a man because of Belle s love and that is how it ends Not an ending I enjoy. This is probably the best book about bestiality I ve ever read Probably Okay, just kidding, it s the only one so far Yeah, I really don t know what to say for myself here I m not a fan of romance novels in the slightest I grabbed this off my girlfriend s shelf she hasn t read it basically on a whim I wanted to try reading something outside my comfort zone As an aspiring author I ve heard that s a thing I should do AndI liked it I m just as surprised as anybody, believe me I can immediately see the things that would stop other people from liking it though Let s review them.1 It s about bestiality I mean, the protagonist bones two female lions in the first third of it and then tries to start a romance with a human woman while he s still very much a freaking lion It is what it is Obviously this makes some people very uncomfortable Some of the reviews here are are so full of outrage about this that I just can t help but laugh Is it really any weirder than being in a serial killer s head while reading Dexter Sure, it s an odd choice to turn into a whole novel, but it s a take on Beauty and the Beast, so it s not like the bestiality was the primary inspiration Also it was done well, so that s really all that matters She paints a vivid picture of what a man getting accustomed to a lion s body would feel like, and I was pretty impressed by that Getting to be in a character s head, especially in first person viewpoint, while they are in the body of an animal is kind of a rare thing I hadn t come across anywhere but short stories before If it makes you uncomfortable, don t read it Or do read it, and also lots of other messed up books, and maybe venture into the darkest reaches of the internet while you re at it because you are super sheltered and need to desensitize yourself if you ask me I, honestly, just found it kind of funny I mean, how can you not He turns into a lion and pretty much the first thing he does is bone not one, but two female lions TWO He emptied those lion nuts post haste He didn t even get a chance to eat anything first 2 The author likes to use specific cultural religious terminology and define it in the same sentence This happens most often at the very beginning, and it s a little much It definitely gets better the further in you get though I mostly skimmed over it, but I also kind of liked it at the same time It did a nice job of pulling you into that world, and It made me feel like I was learning something Since I already have a fondness for this culture and setting maybe I m biased But hey, if you find it annoying then you find it annoying That s all there really is to it, and I totally get it But, to be fair, the author s afterword mentions that Orasmyn would ve written the whole thing in Arabic anyway I just imagined it was the way somebody chose to translate the story into English from his original text and that made sense to my brain 3 Everything is very convenient The reason the protagonist is turned into a lion, for instance Some may cry overly apparent plot device To me, it just combined with the language of the novel and the setting to make it seem like a lengthy fairy tale, and I love fairy tales than just about anything This seemed like a story straight out of Arabian Nights, and that was pretty awesome So, to recap, don t read this book if you are uncomfortable with bestiality, hate smatterings of unnecessary foreign words, or hate overly convenient plots.Do read if you like fairy tales, or if you like Persian and Indian culture in fiction Simple, right Proud, stupid, Orasmyn Only a woman s love can undo the curse And no woman will ever love youWhen Prince Orasmyn of Persia foolishly sacrifices a camel that has been deformed a big no no in Islam , he has no idea how big of a mistake he has made Cursed by an evil fairy, he will now live out the rest of his days as a lion until he can find a woman to love him But who could ever learn to love something so monstrousI am a lion And I will die a lion, for no human woman will ever love meOf all the Beauty and the Beast retellings, very few tell the story from the opposite end of the spectrum We all know what Belle does and how she feels but what about the Beast It seems that all the retellings create a half dimensional version of him The one who looks menacing but it a kind, gentle soul on the inside But how does he really feel That s what Donna Jo Napoli, fairy tale reteller, extraordinaire, attempts to do And for the most part, she succeeds Interestingly enough, she chose not to base this off the Jeanne Marie Leprince de Beaumont version aka the Disney version Rather, it s based on the Charles Lamb version, which was itself set in Persia.Napoli s knack for research, linguistics, and authenticity to the original source never fail to amaze me She is one of the few retellers out there who respectfully walks the line between putting her own spin on it while still being faithful to the original tale Her descriptions of the surroundings and the characters emotions are unparalled Prince Orasmyn is one of the most morally conflicted characters I ve read about in a long time, and for half of the book he s a lion The fact that she got me to care for the emotions and feelings of a goddamn lion is pretty much a miracle There were some little issues I had with this book First of all, there were so many plot holes that it gave Swiss Cheese a run for its money For example, Orasmyn communicates with Belle by writing in French Yet when we read about his previous life in the Persian palace, it s not mentioned that he s ever even learned French, yet alone had a chance to speak or write in French And how the heck does a lion know how to write If he were in true bestiality form, he wouldn t know how to write, read, or comprehend the spoken or written word at all It seems the author couldn t make up her mind whether she wanted Orasmyn to be totally lion, or a lion with human characteristics She was going for the latter, but in some instances DON T get me started on the lion sex , it seemed she wanted him to be full lion The second issue I had with this book was actually the character of Belle This version of Belle I thought was rather flat affect She either chatted aimlessly with the fix kit Chou Chou or pouted looking as if she would burst into tears at any given moment Granted, when you re being held captive by a mysterious looking lion who somehow knows how to write in a language he s never spoken before, you re bound to be stressed out But the independent, feisty Belle we all know and love simply wasn t there There wasn t anything particularly special about her at all, other than the fact that she s supposedly the Chosen One who ll love Orasmyn And finally, for a Beauty and the Beast retelling, the actual entrance of Belle and her storyline was extremely brief The transformation scene Sneeze and you ll miss it The bonding time between Belle and Orasmyn It was there, but so rushed you don t really get a feel for their love The author spent a great deal of time setting up the world of Orasmyn that she seemingly forgot to flesh out and create the most important plot line of all.So how does this rank among the seemingly endless sea of Beauty and the Beast retellings Pretty darn high The Belle could have been fleshed out, as well as the romance, but for the most part this is a masterful, rich tale of bestiality, faith, hardship, and ultimately, forgiveness, love and acceptance Highly recommended. Hey author, your plot device is showing.And not just little glimpses here and there in this book they re as naked as baby mole rats.In fact, Beast is basically one giant plot device to tell a fairytale, with awkward glimpses of a novel, instead of a novel that turns out, quite delightfully, to be a fairytale.The premise is certainly interesting Beauty and the Beast told from the Beast s point of view Ooh and he s Persian too, how exotic But two chapters in I realized that it was going to be a major letdown The book used words and sentences and paragraphs, but they didn t seem to be doing the jobs that words and sentences and paragraphs are supposed to do depict setting, report dialogue and, most importantly, flesh out characters Here they are just vehicles for Napoli to use all the foreign words she found in her research It s as if, by sheer italic force, she is going to make the reader notice how much time she spent researching ancient Persia Look, look I learned all these fancy words and by golly, I m going to use every single one of them Never mind that it breaks the flow of the narrative, never mind that a first person narrator wouldn t mentally be stopping to define things, never mind that I didn t come to read a hagiography of Persia, and please get on with the story.But the real reason this book fails to engage the reader though it is quite easy to read is that Orasmyn, the character we are stuck through the whole book, is unbelievable.Problem 1 He is a prince, the only son of the Shah of Persia, and he is a weakling This alone does not disqualify him as believable character but there is no reason at all WHY he is this way What reason does he have to be scared of the hunt Why does he hate sacrifice The fact that both his parents love him just the way he is struck another discordant note The Shah of all Persia and it seems rather a stretch to say that a mighty Shah would ever only have one child loves his son even though his heir shows no inclination to fighting, war or any of the other duties a prince will one day assume In fact, he s pretty incompetent at everything Surely his father would be at least a little frustrated with his play in the roses son, if not downright hate him And here is where Napoli could have created a believable Orasmyn 1 He would still be the weak, rose loving prince but without his parents love His father is ashamed of him, in fact, and is perhaps plotting to put an illegitimate son on the throne in his place, or perhaps he has a younger brother who outshines him and has the people s love The rose garden would then become a natural place of safety and retreat a glimpse into the troubled soul of a troubled prince The curse too could be centered around his own weaknesses perhaps he summons a pari to find a way to defeat his usurping Gaston like brother and she tricks him Which brings us to Problem 2 the curse It s lame I m sorry, but killing a camel with a scar does not mean you deserve to get turned into a lion And here is the confusing note it s hard to tell if Napoli agrees with this or not Because it s hard to tell how she feels about Islam in this story At the beginning, one expects to see a bit of tension between native Zoastrianism and invading Islam Orasmyn likes his native folklore and yet has a deep, unshakeable faith in Islam But which one does he adhere to A novel would have highlighted this internal tension this book is too busy defining words Even fundamental to the story which religion is responsible for the curse The pari is Persian but the crime is against the Quran So if Orasmyn believes deeply in Islam, wouldn t he eventually have to come to grips with the fact that his religion has turned him into a lion for disobeying a rather arbitrary rule that he really isn t even responsible for Wouldn t that cause just a little bit of internal wrestling, perhaps even a crisis of faith Problem 3 Orasmyn is a lion At the beginning, one assumes that as time will pass he will grow and leonine I began imagine a great struggle as the human side of Orasmyn fights to retain his identity, to battle against the beast like side of his nature This does occur, but there is no alternating lion personality to create a true struggle.In fact, as a lion, Orasmyn is pretty terrible He can t hunt, can hardly fend for himself, and just sort of wanders around moping over his life I was hoping for passages told completely through a lion s eyes a lion who has always been a lion, who acts solely on instinct and resents this strange mind that keeps intruding into his own.Back and forth passages between Orasmyn and the lion would have been awesome 1st person to 3rd person and back again, at least in the second part, which consists mostly of Orasmyn walking around and eating cats.In fact, the first two parts are so lengthy, and so unrelated to Beauty and the Beast, that the third part, in which she tries to prove that is really Beauty and the Beast she s been telling, is horribly rushed by this time you won t mind, however, since you just want it all to be over Forget about a real relationship between Belle and the Beast Orasmyn is too busy raiding kitchens and garbage barrels to actually spend time with the girl who is his sort of captive Also, that awesome scene in the movie where he transforms back into a price Forget that too 3 sentences at the end ought to suffice And forget a Gaston character Or the servants Or really anything that makes the movie fairytale awesome Because hey, reading about making candles is fun Also, what is the meaning of this passage, in what is supposed to be a book for middle school high school readers Belle s backside presents itself to me Like the backside of a lioness The urge to mate renders me hot and savage Stop Just stop Was it really necessary to make it go that direction No No, it was not And here I come to believable Orasmyn 2, and the one, in my opinion that would have been far better He would be a young, arrogant prince, the darling of the entire kingdom who is bold and ruthless on the hunt Perhaps one day he comes across an old lion, feeble and weak He should spare the beast, but instead he kills it, not because it is a threat, but just because he can And then a pari curses him justly and he is forced to dwell in lion skin, where he begins to question everything he believes about his faith, his family and his own place in the world.The rest of the plot would be similar but with a much believable narrator to carry us along Final verdict 1 star It s really not worth the time or effort.