Format Read: Audiobook
Length: 7 hours 18 minutes
on May 30, 2019
Buy from publisher
Beautiful is in three parts. Part one follows the pattern of the fairy tale, though the central character is not the white bear prince or the intrepid young woman who travels east of the sun and west of the moon to save him from a curse. Our narrator, whom I named Hulde, only had a bit-part in that original story. The novel-length version takes Hulde way out of her comfort zone as she heads off into the unknown world beyond the glass mountain, to find out what it means to make your own story.
I’ve never read a Juliet Marillier book before, but I’ve always heard good things. So I definitely jumped at the opportunity to review my first Marillier. And it was not a disappointment.
Beautiful is Marillier’s fairytale retelling of the beloved story, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, an original story published via Audible Original. But rather than reexploring the tale as is, the author reimagines what happens to the characters after the happily ever after.
Most of us may know Hulde as the antagonist that lives in a castle cut off from the rest of the world. She’s engaged to be married to the prince in the old tale, before finding out that her one and only friend, the white bear that visits for a summer every three years, was her betrothed and is destined for someone else. But that tale is nothing like Beautiful. Marillier explores Hulde’s story following the close of the original tale and we go on a journey with the princess turned queen as she finally discovers what’s outside of the castle she’s been locked away in throughout her childhood.
I love retellings where the author explores the story of the ‘villain’, as I always find it so interesting to get another perspective and understand how they came to be, and what they will become after ‘The End’. Hulde, while naive to the world around her, is brave and determined. She sets off on a journey to discover the lands beyond, and despite all the hardship she encounters, she is strong and refuses to give up. Along her journey, she discovers what it really means to be beautiful and kind, and how to rule justly as the new Queen of the Trolls.
Beautiful is an excellent retelling by Marillier, and one I’m sure lovers of the original tale and fairytale retellings in general would appreciate. The story is targetted towards a younger audience, so a bit young for my current reading tastes, but it’s one that I sped through easily and wouldn’t mind listening to again in the future.
Thank you to Audible Australia for providing a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.