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Stop For a Smell

G.R. Mannering’s Roses breathes new life into a tale as old as time.

Stop For a Smell

BOOK REPORT for Roses by G. R. Mannering

Cover Story: Low Budget
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: New Tale This Time
Bonus Factors: Beauty and the Beast
Anti-bonus Factor: Abrupt Ending
Relationship Status: Left Wanting More

Cover Story: Low Budget

Don’t get me wrong, the simplicity of this cover is a bit refreshing when compared to the many I’ve seen with way too much going on at once. But it tells nothing about the story within, unless the story is, well, about roses.

The Deal:

Beauty grew up the ward of Ma Dane Herm-se-Hollis, the matriarch of a very well-to-do family living in Sago, the capital city of Pervorocco. Whereas some wards are treated like members of the family, however, Beauty is locked away in a room with a nurse who is both physically and mentally abusive. For most of her childhood, she’s kept hidden from the rest of society; she doesn’t even have a name until she’s nearly a teenager, and even then it’s spoken in jest. When she can elude her nurse, Beauty escapes to the stables to spend time with her only friend, the stablemaster Owaine, and the horses.

Beauty never did anything to deserve the life she was given, nothing except being born “unusual”—her silvery skin, white hair and violet eyes make her a truly unique individual. When rebels invade Pervorocco and the government begins carrying out cleansings of anyone suspected to be magical, Beauty must leave the city and head to the Hillands with Owaine. There, she begins a new, more simple life.

Unfortunately, with looks like hers, she’s unable to hide forever. And when she ventures into the dark of the forest—where no one ever goes—she discovers an enchanted castle covered in roses and housing a secret as unusual as she is.

BFF Charm: Yay

Beauty could have turned out to be crazy person, and I wouldn’t have really blamed her. She grew up unloved and abused, received little to no schooling and was treated more like a pet than a human being. Yet, she grew up to be loving, smart and loyal—all characteristics of an excellent friend. I’d totally be jealous of her looks, though; even if her name was initially a joke meant to be hurtful, I imagine she was actually quite stunning.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Poor Beauty never had the chance for love growing up. Ma Dane’s son, Eli, grew up in the same house, but was never more than a creepy acquaintance who leered from afar. None of the available men in the Hillands village of Imwane view Beauty as a prospect for marriage, since she looks like she does. When she does eventually find someone who appreciates her for her, they share sweet moments, but then … the book ends. (I’m hoping for a sequel in which Beauty can really get her swoon on. She deserves a HEA.)

Talky Talk: New Tale This Time

Roses is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and G.R. Mannering keeps true to the main ideas while adding new layers around them. The layers create a story that’s original, yet familiar. She also does well at writing a story that seems like a fairy tale but doesn’t get bogged down in the underlying morality tale. (Because, as we all know, there’s always one lurking underneath a good fairy tale.)

Bonus Factor: Beauty and the Beast

I’m always game for a good reimagining of a classic tale. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite movies growing up—I still have the comforter to prove it—and I’ve liked nearly every other version of the tale I’ve ever come across. (Yes, even the terribad CW show.) Roses does not disappoint.

Anti-bonus Factor: Abrupt Ending

As far as I know, there’s no sequel planned for Roses, and that makes me sad. The book ends well, but the ending is also open-ended, meaning that there could be more to come. I’m not fiending for the rest of Beauty’s story (i.e., I don’t need it right now), but I do hope more of her story eventually works its way out of Mannering’s mind.

Casting Call:

Young Elle Fanning as Young Beauty

Olivia Wilde as Adult Beauty

Elle and Olivia don’t really look anything alike, but I like them both as actors, and I think they would both do well at bringing Beauty’s mix of vulnerability and strength to life.

Relationship Status: Left Wanting More

Gosh, Book. You start our time together by telling me a unique and interesting adventure around one of my favorite old tales, but just when I think you’re going to expand upon what happens after, you say you have to get home and then drop me off at my doorstep with nothing more than a friendly goodbye. I’m now just sitting by the phone, waiting for you to call, hoping that I’ll hear from you again.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Sky Pony Press. I received neither foot massages nor money for this review. Roses is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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