Review: Belle by Cameron Dokey

Goodreads Synopsis:

The story of Beauty and the Beast finds new life in this magical and imaginative retelling that’s filled with romance and adventure.

By the time her sixteenth birthday comes around, Belle feels more convinced than ever that she is being called by the wrong name. Unlike her older sisters Celeste and April, whose names suit them perfectly, Belle knows that she is not beautiful. She begs to be called by her given name, Annabelle—or even Anna for short—but to no avail. Her solace is her wood-carving hobby, and she longs to find the Heartwood tree: Legend has it that, when carved by the right hands, it can reveal the face of one’s true love.

One day, during a fierce storm, Belle’s father stumbles upon the fabled tree—only to become ensnarled by it and come face-to-face with a terrifying and lonely Beast, who will set him free on one condition: that Belle carves the Heartwood. Belle agrees, never dreaming that she and the Beast have the same wish: to be seen not with the eyes of the mind, but of the heart.

Chick and Brain Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Here I am reading another Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I actually liked this one.  It is obvious to all of us that Dokey has obviously read Beauty by Robert McKinley because of the similar story line, so I do have some of the same complaints.  I am not going to voice all of them all over again, but there are certainly more pros for this story than cons. For instance, the magic and love story that we have been lacking in many other retellings, Dokey has given us wrapped in a nice red bow. Yes there are times that it seems trite and predictable, but it is there none there less. The parts that we are shown are beautiful. Dokey shows us is able to provide us with a lot more depth to go as far as to say a provide us with a moral to learn like the fairy tales of old we were used to growing up. These are items that we have come to expect from fairy tales.  We want the sunshine and rainbows with the predictable ending, it is why we picked up the book to begin with. However Dokey made the experience of getting to the end more enjoyable that those before him.

Dokey has also found a way to draw this narrative away from the Disney classic we have come to know and love.  Although there is a magical presence in this story, there is a more sophisticated aspect to it. Instead of a rose, there is what is called a Heartwood Tree, a tree that has grown from the true love of a man and a woman.  It is not just a simple kiss or declaration of love between Belle and her Beast that will break the spell but a connection of heart and soul. Through out the entire narrative everything is just more. By providing us with more meat so to speak, Dokey is able to provide us with the fairy tale experience while also engaging in the higher level romance we all look for now and then.

As a lover of Beauty and the Beast we all know I am picky when it comes to retellings. Is this the best I have ever read, no, but this is for sure one of the better of the many. Dokey has discovered how to make the a fairy tale a little less cheesy while still maintaining a lot of the aspects that we have all come to love. I will definitely be on the look out for more stories by this author again.


Until next time,


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