Recommended for ages 12+
The first in The Tales Trilogy, which will bring well-known fairy tales together in a war-torn fantasy world, Roses is the story of Beauty and the Beast. A nameless young girl arrives to live in the city of Sago, a ward of the wealthy Ma and Pa Dane. She is unusual, with silvery skin, white hair, and violet eyes; in a world where magical beings are feared and loathed, her appearance causes eyebrows to raise. At first, Ma Dane horribly mistreats the girl, even hiring a cruel nanny to beat her and verbally abuse her. As the girl grows older and Ma Dane is reminded of a promise she made long ago, her relationship to the girl becomes more of a showpiece, trotting her out so visitors can gawk at her. She’s given the name Beauty as a cruel joke. When Sago goes through an uprising where magical beings are hunted down, Beauty is sent with Ma Dane’s master of horse, Owaine, to flee into the hill lands for her own safety. Eventually, though, even the hills aren’t safe for Beauty, and she’s forced to run again: this time, to a castle and a Beast, who holds a terrible secret.
Rose Mannering builds an incredible fantasy world in Roses. I wasn’t sure where the book was going at first, to be honest; the Beauty and the Beast part of the story builds gradually, with the first half of the book giving us Beauty’s background. I would have loved more of Beauty and the Beast, because their relationship is masterfully shaped and formed. It looks like we’ll likely get more of these two in future Tales, as it looks like Beauty is going to be a key character in this trilogy.
There are themes of child abuse and bullying, secrets kept and mysterious amulets abound in this first volume. Fantasy and fairy tale fans will be thrilled with a new series to love, and YA romance fans will be drawn to it, because Beauty and the Beast is THE romance! (Beauty and the Beast fans: YES, there is a library, and YES, it is just as breathtaking as your imagination makes it.)
There are so many great YA fairy tale retellings to booktalk this with: your Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles, Sarah Cross’ Beau Rivage series, Colleen Oakes’ Queen of Hearts – these are just a few. You can start a book group with all of the fairy tales being rewritten these days; ask your readers to read the original tale and the revamp, and talk about the similarities, differences, additions to the worlds, even show the original movies. Our fairy tales have had new lives breathed into them as we hold onto them, which could be a whole topic of discussion, too. We have Disney Princesses as tattooed pin-ups and weapon-wielding warriors, and we’re imagining Disney Princes are real-life people. There’s a lot to talk about here!
Roses is a promising beginning to a new fantasy series. A good add to fantasy collections. The hardcover was published in 2013 and is now available in paperback. I read the Kindle edition for my review, which is also available. The second book in the Tales Trilogy, Feathers, was published in June.