Another retelling review! (I should just give these a separate category.)
As Old as Time retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, except this time it’s Beauty’s mother who cursed the Beast. The story features a kingdom full of magical creatures, a conceited and insipid Gaston, and an insane asylum. Add the classic castle full of talking furniture, a cute tea service, and a wonderful love story, and this book should be a smashing success.
Unfortunately, it’s not.
In order to express why this book frustrated me so much, I first need to explain why Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale.
In the original story the Beast is ugly and has a menacing voice, but he is still civil and considerate. In the Disney movie, he is a little less civilized and still quite menacing in appearance, but he retains his kind and considerate nature. Beauty, on the other hand, is joyful, friendly, and thoughtful in all the stories.
What I adore about their love story is their mutual respect for each other. Beast and Beauty tell each other the truth. (Also the Beast shares his magnificent library with Beauty. 😉 )
In her retelling Liz Braswell completely ruins the story by making the Beast a pitifully juvenile character and Beauty a bossy know-it-all. Basically Beauty orders the Beast around throughout the entire story and tells him to stop acting like a spoiled ten-year old. In fact, the story should really be titled “Beauty ft. (a little bit of) Beast.”
In the original story they both had an equal role to play in the plot and that equality defined their relationship. They both needed each other, relied on each other, and trusted each other. I mean the lyrics of the most iconic song in the movies go “Then somebody bends/ Unexpectedly/ Just a little change.” Not someone breaks. Not Someone yields. Not someone forgets completely who they are. “Someone bends.” Someone shows their trust and sincerity.
Braswell’s story completely ignores the dynamic in their relationship and portrays the Beast as a burden that Beauty could do without. This is unfortunate because the premise of Beauty’s mother being the enchantress that curses the prince has incredible potential.
Furthermore the writing wasn’t satisfactory at all, which added to the juvenility of the Beast.
I know it’s kind of odd to get so annoyed about a fairytale, but to me fairytales are the one kind of story that shouldn’t lose the dynamic that originally existed between the characters when they are retold. I don’t mind when authors completely change my perception of characters in other genres, but please, just leave my fairytales alone people!
All in all I disliked As Old as Time and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who wanted a good retelling or was a Beauty and the Beast fan like me.
What’s your favorite fairy tale and why? Share in the comments. 🙂