November 13, 2010

Belle by Cameron Dokey

BelleEven with two extraordinarily beautiful sisters - Celeste and April - Annabelle finds little to be extraordinary about her self, and her nickname, Belle, sometimes feels like a mockery. As she herself points out, there is nothing wrong with her exactly, and she was even born in a perfectly fine day and ordinary day, but next to the dramatic beauty of her older sister, she feels quite... un-Beautiful.

Still, she grows in the shadow cast by her two sisters, leading a quiet, comfortable life in a seaside town where her father owns a shipping business. Her only talent, so she claims, is in wood-carving. With her tools and a nice piece of wood, she can find the secrets hidden within.

When her father's fortune turns sour, Belle and her family move from the mansion to a cottage in the country side, which eventually leads her father into finding a Heartwood tree, whose wood is rumored to be able to reveal the face of true love. But guarding the tree there is a Beast, and one very interested in Belle's talent, and on whatever the Heartwood wood will reveal.

Belle is part of the "Once Upon a Time" series, and it's a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I think it was very aptly named, for in this case it's mostly Belle's story (*MINI SPOILER* the Beast is absent for most of the book *MINI SPOILER*), as she struggles to find her own beauty and her own worth.

I have to say that I didn't love the book - and that's rare because I usually love anything Beauty and the Beast. I felt it was too short, some things happened too quickly and others were left hanging. And, at times, I felt Belle was a bit whiny. But it was a likable enough read, and it didn't take me much time at all to finish it.

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