The Subtle Beauty (Book Review)

So, after the new promotional pic made the rounds on the interwebs, I became acquainted with another gryphon author.  Ann Hunter.  She pointed me in the direction of the book, and I couldn’t help but to check it out.

Really, I’m a sucker for gryphons.

So. her book.  Here is a cover pic.

Image

According to Goodreads, The Subtle Beauty tells the story of:

A cursed prince. A vain beauty. Glory is the seventh daughter of Balthazar, High King of the Twelve Kingdoms. Glory hopes that – of all her sisters – she can escape the fate of a loveless marriage. But on the night she plans to elope with the royal falconer, her world comes crashing down: Her father announces Glory’s betrothal to Eoghan of the Blood Realm – a prince no one has ever seen. The prince is said to be a recluse, cursed and deformed by the gods for the sins of his power-hungry father. Yet when Glory is trapped in Blackthorn Keep she discovers that not everything is what she expected. An insulting gryphon, a persistent ghost, and a secret plan to usurp the prince keep Glory reeling.

In this retelling of BEAUTY & THE BEAST, can Glory overcome her vanity to learn that what she wants isn’t what she needs—and save the cursed prince?

Definitely sounds interesting.  I’ve never delved into fairy tale retellings, but throw in a gryphon and some celtic stuff…totally sold.

I’m going to say a short little blurb here, before I do my in-depth review.  That way people who don’t want spoilers wont get any. 🙂

This book is great.  I loved it, though there were a couple of times I got a little confused.  My only real complaint was for the kindle edition.  The author uses non-english words and has a link to a translation.  That all worked fine, but I had to check my location first, and then go all the way back to it, which made me less inclined to look up translations.  But that’s more of a software irritation, not really the author’s fault.

Anyway, this is a fantastic short (well, not really short, but shorter than the other books I’ve been reading lately) story.  The characters are intriguing and Hunter puts a nice twist on an old story.  It is definitely worth the relatively inexpensive price.  I loved reading it and will be sure to read it again, as well as other works by Ann Hunter.

Okay, on to my more in-depth review.

WARNING.  HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

Which means unless you want some stuff spoiled, please don’t read any further.

Okay, so the story starts out telling us a tale that at times seems unrelated to the whole “beauty and the beast” bit.  I was actually very confused at first, wondering how it was all going to tie in together. What I didn’t realize (but did later) was that it was laying the groundwork for why Eoghan (the “deformed” prince) is cursed.  I was also confused when the mother sacrificed herself to the gods to save her son from his father’s sins, but the baby still ended up being cursed.  Maybe I read that part wrong?

Edit (Response from Ann Hunter): Aowyn sacrifices herself to save Xander’s life, but Eoghan is cursed because of what Xander has already done.

Aside from being confused by this, I felt the whole prologue stretched a bit long.  It was very good, but I was mostly just wondering when the gryphon was going to enter the picture.  This isn’t any fault of the author, mostly just me being goofy and impatient.

Then the story pics up with the vain MC, Glory.  Ann Hunter does a magnificent job writing this character.  There are times when I really dislike her, which is good.

The story builds and the plot thickens until our Glory finds herself “kidnapped” (I use this term loosely since she went willingly, she was just confused as to the identity of the person on the horse) and taken to a dark land with an old rundown castle like place and a gryphon.

Yay! Gryphons! XD  Finally!

(I know, I know.  I have issues, lol).

So, the idea is that the gryphon actually -is- the prince.  This confused me because in the prologue the prince Eoghan was born deformed (twisted spine, club foot, etc.).  So how, or why, did he go from being a deformed human to a gryphon?  This is explained briefly, but I would have liked something a bit more in depth.

Edit (Response from Ann Hunter): There’s hints in the prologue that he’s actually born with some undeveloped gryphon features (fuzzy/downy, hard black nose– later beak, his spine proturding in a tail-like manner). I wanted to hint without giving it away.

Looks like I’m a bit daft and took some of the hints too literally. XD

Eventually Glory fell in love with him.  I feel this part is rushed, and would have liked to see more evidence to her warming to the gryphon.  In every action she is ridiculously rude to him, and is disgusted by him.  Then he saves her life and tells her that he is Eoghan.  After that she seems much less disgusted by him, which bothers me.  Why should a name change her entire outlook?  I realized that most of the old tales involve such fast-paced love stories, but I’d like to see things drawn out just a little, before they rush into saying the L word.

This was actually a struggle for me in Gryphon’s Prophecy.  A friend/Beta Reader pointed out that my very first rough draft had the characters falling in love in like, one chapter.  That it was unrealistic and needed to be fixed.  So I went back and fixed that.  The characters now connect over many chapters, getting to actually know each other and fall in love in a more realistic way.

Edit (Response from Ann Hunter): I know it seems rushed, but by the time she realizes she has any feelings for him that are not unkind (and indeed that she NEEDS him in her life to help her be a better person), it’s too late. So she spends the next year pining over what might have been. Their love story doesn’t start to develop until the last page.

Despite the few confusions and complains I had, the book was very worth it!  I enjoyed reading it and could hardly put it down (I actually had a late time clock punch because I was reading on my lunch break).  I really enjoyed the story, and it is probably one I will read again.  I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good, but shorter story that has a beautifully happy ending (even if gryphon-less).  I look forward to reading Ann Hunter’s other books as well, in the future. 🙂

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About lvadams

I grew up in Central Florida for most of my life. I was one of those strange kids who liked to catch lizards and snakes, and brought everything home from stray kittens to baby chickens and ducks. I started writing around the age of 11 and never really stopped. I now have a Bachelor's of Science degree from Auburn University and hope to get a job working with animals. Until then I keep on writing. :)
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One Response to The Subtle Beauty (Book Review)

  1. Pingback: A Piece of Sky (Book Review) | lvadams

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