Sunday, July 21, 2013

Beauty and the Werewolf

I knew when I started reading Mercedes Lackey's Beauty and the Werewolf that there was a very good chance I wouldn't really like it.  A friend of mine at work read it and told me the main character is pretty annoying.  When I first started reading, I thought Isabella (or Bella for short) wouldn't be too bad. I mean, she was taking care of her stepsisters and seemed to have a good relationship with them (which is very much at odds with a fairy tale type story, especially one set in the land where the Tradition pushes your life into a tale for good or ill).  But then Bella gets bitten by a werewolf and the king sends her to live in seclusion with said werewolf for three months in case she was infected.  And that's when she starts getting really whiny and annoying!  Whenever she distracts herself in some fashion, she wasn't too bad.  But whenever she stopped to think, she'd just start feeling sorry for herself.  It was really annoying to read that sort of thing over and over again for the first half of the book.

Another issue I had was with the villain.  It was super obvious who it was pretty much from the beginning.  I kept hoping that I was wrong, that something would happen and the villain would turn out to be someone else.  But no such luck. 

I feel like I should give a bit more of the plot here, but there really isn't much to say.  The beginning is a bit Red Riding Hood, where Bella goes to visit a wise woman in the woods (conveniently named Granny), who trains her in herb lore and the like.  The werewolf attacks her on the way home.  Then, as I already mentioned, she is sent (or "kidnapped" as she keeps calling it) to the home of Duke Sebastian, the werewolf who bit her.  The house is full of invisible servants who can only speak by writing things on chalkboards.  The only other human in the house is Eric, Sebastian's half-brother (unacknowledged by their father) who works as the Gamekeeper and keeps everyone off the land so Sebastian won't accidentally kill someone should he break free.  Bella had a couple of run-ins with him before coming to the house.  So now Bella has to adjust to being away from her household and family, learning to live with Sebastian and Eric (again, for only three months if she doesn't become a werewolf herself).

I gave this book only 2 stars out of 5 on Goodreads.  I originally gave it a 3 because I like Lackey's writing style.  But this is not one of her better books.  The Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms overall has been kind of hit and miss, and in my opinion this was the worst of the misses.  The plot was too predictable in most regards (I think the biggest mystery for me revolved around the invisible servants, and that didn't really develop throughout the book) and I couldn't stand Bella through a good chunk of the book (as M- says in her review of the book on Goodreads: "the heroine is a spoiled manipulative child with flagrant Mary-Sue tendencies," which is unfortunately quite true).  Unless you're a super dedicated Lackey fan, you'll probably want to give this one a miss.

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