If you previously read my reviews for Poison and Charm, you might notice I actually read the three books in this series quite close together. Almost as soon as I finished Poison, I ordered the next two, mainly because I was instantly gripped with the urge to read more.
Beauty is the final installment in the series, and it’s ended up being my favourite of the three. I do however have a complaint now I’ve read all three: I really, really want more.
In these books, Pinborough has not only given us fantastic retellings of traditional fairy tales, but created a new fantasy world for these people to inhabit. The novels read like they could almost be companions to Once Upon A Time, and it works really bloody well.
Beauty focuses on the prince we originally met in Poison, and revisited in Charm. In both previous books, there is mention of an adventure he took, though it remains clouded in mystery. The reader might get some hint and clue about said adventure, and work out it possibly involved Sleeping Beauty herself, but it’s never clear. This book explores that adventure, when the prince and huntsman set out looking for a forgotten kingdom, and both gain more than they expected.
As with the first two books, we meet familiar fairy tale characters who come with a bit of a twist. Little Red Riding Hood lives with her grandma, in a cottage surrounded by wild wolves, and is drawn to the strange thorny wall near their home. From the other side comes a howl that speaks to something deep within her.
We discover more about the huntsman, and his life prior to travelling with the prince. The character of the prince is deepened, and to a point, he becomes that bit more sympathetic. Though his actions in Poison are inexcusable, Beauty offers good reasons why he acted like he did.
And as for the title character herself…
The whole plot revolves around her and her history, the union between her parents, the love everyone in the kingdom has for her. And like with other characters, Pinborough does something wonderfully clever with the beloved princess. Even Rumpelstiltskin appears, as an advisor to the former king, and the man who betrayed Beauty.
Pinborough beautifully weaves these different stories together, giving the reader plenty of twists to truly shock them. Even though we sort of know what happens to the prince and huntsman, the writing is engaging enough the how and why become so much more important.
This is a series easy to read and sink into, and proved a perfect escape for the current strange times. Beauty, for me, was really the strongest of the three, and a fantastic ending to the trilogy. As I said at the beginning, however, I just wish there were more of these to enjoy.