Back in May, in the gloriously warm and sunny weather we were blessed with, I read the young-adult fantasy, Calysta and the Beast by new-to-me author, Joanna Alonzo, which is a modern-day, Christian retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Since this was first published back in 2016, when a copy was sent to me, this has had a title change and become the first book in a trilogy called The Sacred Scarred.
Calysta and the Beast introduces us to young, New York teen, Calysta Daniels and her older, half-sisters, Karina and Paige, just as their world is turned upside down by the devastating news that their father’s shipping business has gone under and they are forced to move to a small town in Virginia. While its hell for the spoilt twins, the insecure Calysta finds this new life a chance for healing, friendship and faith. But their father’s bad financial choices finally catches back up with them, which leads Calysta accepting a very odd proposal from a stranger to save her sick and bankrupt father from prison.
Meanwhile, our beast, is the handsome, popular and high-flying teen, Brendan O’Keefe. Abandoned by his mother, Brenda has been raised in luxury by his wealthy, childless aunt. Whatever Brendan wants he gets, whatever Brendan puts his mind to he achieves… except love. This leads to bitter and careless behaviour particularly in regards to others feelings, which leads to a curse being placed upon Brendan: turning him from perfection-to-beast. Now his only chance to save himself is to make Calysta fall in love with him.
As the story progresses, the narrative skips alternatively between Calysta and Brendan, so we are able to get to know both of them well. I instantly liked Calysta and found her developing faith really inspiring. It was a lot harder to like Brendan, but I could sympathise with how he had become as he was. Both are beautiful and broken in their own ways, and I enjoyed following their personal, transformational journeys. I also love how the author, Alonzo has cleverly worked elements of the classic, French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast into the characters and narrative too.
All in all, I thought Calysta and the Beast was a refreshing change from your usual romantic, young-adult fiction, with it’s classic fairy tale inspiration and it’s Christian teachings. I swiftly read this out in the May sunshine and I would be interested reading the rest of the trilogy. Good read.
(Thank you to the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion)
I’d love to hear your thoughts: Have you read this? Or have you read any of the other novels in the trilogy? Any recommendations of some great fairy tale inspired books I should read?