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Review

 

Beauty by Sarah Pinborough

Beauty by Sarah Pinborough
5
Book Name: Beauty
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher(s): Gollancz
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy / Fairy Tale
Release Date: October 17, 2013

Beauty is the retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale; all the elements are here, the impenetrable forest, the cursed princess and the handsome prince. This final story in Sarah Pinborough’s trilogy of fairy tale retellings closes the circle started in Poison, but whilst being the last book released, chronologically Beauty is the first story in the sequence. I’d long suspected – after events and comments made by two characters in Poison – that this trilogy would follow along the same non-linear lines as the film Sin City. This disjointed way of telling the story has built over the previous two books making this first story a brilliant ending.

From the title it’s easy to assume what fairytale Sarah is alluding to. Already we’ve had Snow White in Poison and Cinderella in Charm, so going into this I was expecting the trademark slantways take that Sarah has given us many time before, but this time focused on the Sleeping Beauty story. Whilst this is primarily what we get – in a roundabout way – we also get a lot more. Upon finishing, I’d counted at least three separate fairy tales blended into the mix, and possible nods to fair-few more. Sarah uses her talents to subtlety pull all these threads into one story and never allows the novella to feel crowded. This is all the more impressive considering this is the third book and Sarah had to tie off a number of loose ends carried over from the previous two. As I’m sure you have, I’ve read some full-length novels where too many threads have made the story bloated and incoherent, but, as I say, Sarah has kept this series constantly moving with sparkling prose and a cracking pace.

The problem with novellas is that they can sometimes be a little like a Chinese takeaway, a quick meal and soon after you are feeling hungry again. But with Beauty Sarah has managed to make a novella that feels like a full novel; you get given a full blown world, full of character’s all of which are fully formed and three dimensional, and whilst they may feel familiar, they all have uniqueness to them that sets them apart from what may be the accepted image of the characters. You also very much get the view that the separate kingdoms already visited in the previous two books are very tightly linked together. Whilst the cast comes from different parts, they have a common past, one that brings them together whether they wanted it to or not.

As with the previous two stories this is very much a Sarah Pinborough book, full of devious twists on character traits and healthy dollops of sexual tension. Whilst not as blazingly sexy as the previous two – though there is a pretty wild party – this time there is more underlying tension, a hint that at any moment bodices will be ripped and breaches dropped to the floor. As a standalone this would work on many levels, added to the whole it makes a perfect episode in the overall story arc and a great conclusion to Sarah’s fairytale trilogy.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
Beauty by Sarah Pinborough, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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2 Comments

  1. Overlord says:

    I was at a party a few years ago when Gillian Redfern (Editorial Director at Gollancz books) asked Sarah Pinborough (author of these books, of course) wanted to go somewhere quiet to talk about ‘an idea’. Being nosey, when they returned I asked them what they were plotting. Sarah eventually told me she had an idea for a dark and sexy twist on fairytales and I remember thinking that this would be a really cool idea. It’s incredible to think that what started as a discussion in a wine bar one night has launched into a trilogy of excellent novellas.

    As I maintain, Sarah Pinbrough is one of the best, most diverse authors in the genre. I hope Factioners are picking up her books and giving her the attention she deserves 🙂

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