An item of business, first. When I put Wildwood Dancing on my list for the Once Upon a Time challenge, I was confident that my wonderful local library would have it in and I would get to read it. Well, it’s days before the challenge ends, and, my wonderful local library has failed me. The book is still “on order” and since I’m the second person in line to read it, it ain’t goin’ to happen, at least for this challenge. (Oh, I know, I could BUY the book, but I have a thing about buying books before I read them, because if I don’t like it, I feel like it’s a waste of money, and yes, I know that’s a hangup I have. But then, that’s why there are libraries, right?)
So. I wandered the stacks, and discovered Beast, by Donna Jo Napoli. You have to understand that I read Zel by Napoli probably 10 years ago and had such a viscerally negative reaction (don’t remember why) to it, that I’ve avoided Napoli books since. So it was amazing that I even managed to take it home, let alone read it.
And I remembered why I didn’t like Napoli books.
It’s not the stories — this one is Beauty and the Beast from the Beast’s point of view, with an added twist that he was Persian and Muslim — it’s the storytelling. It’s not just that she’s incredibly graphic in her descriptions of things (did I really NEED to know about how Prince Orasmyn rutted with lionesses soon after he was transformed? Really?) but it’s also that she just gets lost in page after page after page of internal monologue and exposition. Which really got dull after a while. I didn’t care all that much about Orasmyn or his plight (I think I was supposed to), and I didn’t feel the transformation. How did he come to love Belle? Why? Was it just because she was there? He wasn’t a sympathetic prince. Then there was the whole unanswered questions at the end. He’s Muslim, she’s Christian. How are they going to make this relationship work? Is she going to go back to Persia with him? Will she convert? (He won’t.) How will she deal with life in Persia? Will they just stay in the castle in France, instead? (Okay, maybe it’s just me that has these questions at the end of the book. )
While I didn’t hate this book, it did little to change my opinion of Napoli.
In other news, I saw Midsummer Night’s Dream on Friday and loved it. And I’m going to try and read it, and now that I can picture what’s going on in my mind, I’ll probably enjoy it more.