Barefoot on the Wind - Book Review
YA Fantasy/Beauty & the Beast Retelling
UK Publisher: Walker Books
Some other Books by Zoe Marriott:
There is a Monster in the forest…
Everyone in Hana’s remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana’s father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it - or be killed herself.
But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects…
In this book, Zoe Marriott puts her own stamp on the beloved, Beauty and the Beast tale. Yet what struck me most about this book, aside from its Japanese setting, was the beauty of the writing, the friendships formed by the characters, and funnily enough, the distinct lack of romance. That’s not to say that this isn't a love story - because it is - but it’s a love story built on loyalty and companionship. You won’t find fluff in this book. It’s a truly exceptional read. A real masterpiece of fiction.
All Hana’s life, the forest has whispered the same warning. There is a monster in the woods. Yet growing up in a village where people frequently disappear, never to return, Hana’s heart is hardened to the warning. Yet when her father goes missing, she will do anything it takes to save him. Even venture into the deepest, darkest part of the forrest.
But the woods surrounding Hana’s village have a magic of their own and they protect a dark secret. A cursed creature, a beast with a heart of ice…
This was a really delicious read. Unlike most beauty and the beast retellings, this story explores the beast’s past, giving the reader an insight into the events that led up to the curse. It’s a book that doesn't turn away from the ugly sides of nature, but instead reveals the story in a truthful way.
Hana is strong heroine who has been sculpted by loss of her brother into a more masculine role. She is a hunter with a strong will that serves her well throughout the course of the story. The beast on the other hand is a healer, quiet and docile in nature. I like how his strength is portrayed, not through physical action, but through his acceptance of his sins. He doesn't fight his fate, and believes his punishment is just. It is only through Hana’s arrival that beast finally begins to see he is not the same man he once was.
I also liked the mythology in this book, and without giving away spoilers, all I can say is I liked the twist on the whole “there is a monster in the forrest” storyline. It made the ending of the book that much sweeter.
However I did feel parts of the middle were a little slow. I understand many of the scenes were there to show the developing relationship between Hana and the Beast, but I couldn't help but be eager for something more to happen. While the pacing does pick up considerably toward the end, the contrast is sharp and in hindsight, makes the middle seem more slower than it probably was.
All in all though this was a really beautiful read. Zoe Marriott has a real flair for poetic storytelling and I’m looking forward to her next book, whatever it may be. I give Barefoot on the Wind 4 stars!
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What did the rest of you think? Isn't that cover just gorgeous? And did I mention this book counts toward both the British Book Challenge, and the fairytale retellings? It's a win win! :)