When Isobel finds a strange arch of roses in the middle of a forest, she finds it very strange–even more so when she passes through it and enters the realm of the Fae, or a piece of it anyways. When she finds herself falling for the handsome, scarred fae prince in charge of a cursed estate, she becomes determined to break his curse and save the estate.
Title: The Rose Gate: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (Faerie Tale Romances, #1)
Author: Hanna Sandvig
Publisher: Hanna Sandvig
Genres: YA Fantasy Retelling
I received an ARC for this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
All Isobel wants is a quiet place to read, but apparently that’s too much to ask. She only needs to make it through one last summer with her broken family before she can leave for university and get on with her life. At least she has her books and the solitude of the woods.
But there are wolves in these woods.
Caught out in the forest after dark, Isobel is pursued by a disturbingly intelligent pack of wolves. When the grizzly bear who rescues her turns out to be a cursed fae prince, she realizes her life isn’t the only thing in danger. She could lose her heart.
Trapped by the wolves at the prince’s home in Faerie, Isobel tries to unravel the mystery behind the surly prince’s scars. Because time is running out for the castle’s inhabitants, and if Isobel can’t find a way to break the spell and save the prince from the Unseelie Queen, she may lose everything she’s come to love.
I love a good modern, fae-retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and The Rose Gate didn’t disappoint. Something about this story just lends itself to old fae stories. It just makes sense.
I think it would be better to compare this book to Disney’s BATB instead of the older French version, as there are a lot of influences from the former than the latter (Bel loves to read, wolves chase her, servants are talking animals instead of invisible ghosts). But Sandvig still differentiates her story from many different retellings of this classic story, and in the end, I was satisfied.
I did struggle a little bit during the first half of the book–there’s a lot of explaining that needs to be done, and a lot of the time it seems that Isobel is just walking around with someone who explains things to her. However, once all the explanations are finished, the story gets really exciting. After that point, I couldn’t put it down.
The strongest parts of this novel are when Sandvig veers away from the original story. Those parts felt especially fresh and fun. They really showed Sandvig’s excellent storytelling.
Isobel is an easy character to connect with. She loves to read and take walks in nature. She’s caring and curious, though she has her flaws as well. There were a couple of times her voice felt a bit inconsistent–sometimes she would sound like a true YA, and others times she acted a little older. But then YA’s do that, so it isn’t a big complaint. I especially loved her relationship with her sisters–I’m such a sucker for sister characters, and this was awesome!
I actually struggled a bit in the beginning with the beast character. The first third of the book it felt like he was simply there to fill a role in a story. He was grumpy one moment, kind the next, so there was some inconsistency. But after the story veers away from the original fairy tale, I began to like the beast a lot more. His character really became real for me after that.
The romance is sweet and easy to cheer on. The two characters have a lot of chemistry.
I want to give a shout out to all of the animal servants in this book. I love them ALL! They were so sweet and funny, each with their own personality. They just made me so happy.
I like how contained the world building in this story is–most of it is in the beast’s estate, with tiny glimpses into the bigger world Sandvig has created. She also uses Irish fairy tales, which I will always enjoy. This is the first book in a faerie tale series, so I’m interested to see how Sandvig expands her world.
This is definitely one of the most satisfactory BATB retellings I’ve read in a long time. Sandvig’s creative spin on the fairy tale is interesting and intriguing, and I’m looking forward to see what else she writes next.