Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales

Harper. Sept. 2021. 336p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062652638.
Gr 6 Up–An exhausted prince beset by a vampiric thief he comes to love; a merchant’s “dutiful” daughter who secretly longs for freedom; a mermaid who begs a sea witch to make her human; a sea witch once rejected by the merking himself—these are just a few of the characters, familiar and yet new, that readers will meet in Chainani’s latest title. Here, 12 well-known European tales are retold through a racially, ethnically, and sexually diverse lens for a modern audience. Stories tackle such issues as consent, racism, abuse, and neglect, yet all harken back to a central theme: love. This is not the love readers have come to expect from fairy tales, however; Chainani’s yarns question every aspect of the classic happily ever after. Still, older readers who enjoy a well-crafted reimagining—and don’t mind an ambiguous, occasionally depressing ending—are sure to devour this collection. Most characters present as BIPOC, and some are LGBTQ.
VERDICT A brilliant, bloodthirsty fairy-tale collection that would better suit an older audience. Share with fans of compelling myth and folklore anthologies like A Thousand Beginnings and Endings or Daniel M. Lavery’s The Merry Spinster. Recommended for YA and adult collections.

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