Belle is a young girl with purple hair who is convinced a red rose from deep in the forest will help her strange purple locks be more appealing. Her mother follows and begs her not to go into the forest because of the terrible beast who lives there. As if she summons him, Belle's mother is abducted, and the Beast steals her beautiful face. The town burns the body in the hopes it will stop the Beast from coming back. Belle’s father can’t take the loss of his wife, so he shuts Belle up in their house and refuses to let anyone see her, while he spends the day drinking away the pennies she makes with her seamstress work. One day, Belle escapes and is determined to find her mother, who she believes is still alive in the Beast's castle. She finds the Beast, but he isn’t exactly how she remembers him. He’s rude, uncaring, but not murderous, and doesn’t steal her face. His magical floating castle brings her back to her village, but evil forces have been at work while Belle was away.
I really enjoyed this retelling of Beauty and the Beast with the twists of having a different bad guy pulling the strings and the inclusion of otherworldly magic. Yuki sets up the main conflict perfectly in this first volume with little teases that will make readers start to theorize about what is really happening, but I suspect we will be completely off base by the end. Belle's switch from being a shut-in to standing up for herself is pretty sudden and could have used a little more of a solid reasoning. I also didn't care for her dedication to her father despite knowing how evil of a person he became to her, but I understand that type of loyalty is hard to shake for family members.
The illustrations are beautiful and remind me of The Rose of Versailles by Riyoko Ikeda. The character's clothing is so flowy and frilly like the dresses from Versailles. Everything is incredibly detailed and lush, and the terrifying panels of the Beast or other bad people really invoke some horror manga elements.
Because of the darker elements and the seriousness of the situation Belle is in, plus the murder of women, this title is best suited for older readers.
Sara's Rating: 9/10
Suitability Level: Grades 7-12
Publication Date: February 13, 2020
ISBN: 9781646512508 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: Middle School, Suitability: High School, Manga, Folklore, Fantasy, Suspense, Kodansha
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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