The third and final novella in the wicked fairy tale series by Sarah Pinborough is Beauty. A wonderfully dark retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale, we find all the regular characters – Beauty, the Prince, the evil fairy and even the cursed spindle. Pinborough takes these well known characters and gives them a new twist for a new audience.
The Prince has come of age and his father the King decides his son needs to have his own adventure. Stories of a mysterious kingdom are perfect for the boy and paired up with a Huntsman, the two set off. Along the way they meet Petra and her Grandmother and soon find the kingdom itself. Surrounded by a forest of thorns the entire kingdom is asleep and in the castle at its’ heart is the beautiful sleeping Beauty. Waking the princess seems the best course of action, but not everyone believes this to be true. And when she is awakened, the three adventurers find that not everything is as peaceful as it seems.
Unlike Charm which was a retelling of one fairy tale, Beauty is a combination of several stories in to one. At it’s heart is Sleeping Beauty, but woven in are the well known Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, and even Rumplestiltskin. All are woven together so seamlessly and effortlessly. I found it entertaining to pick the threads of the stories apart and see what came from where.
Like other works by Pinborough, Beauty is well written and very engrossing. Again, this is NOT for children. Dark and seductive it is reminiscent of the original tales and should appeal to nearly all readers. I highly recommend this one.