Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales | Soman Chainani


Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales written by Soman Chainani and illustrated by Julia Iredale

Out now from HarperCollins; 336 pages

Content Warnings: Death, sexual assault, animal death, child abuse

About the Author: “A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia University’s MFA Film Program, Soman began his career as a screenwriter and director, with his films playing at over 150 film festivals around the world. He has been nominated for the Waterstone Prize for Children’s Literature, been named to the Out100, and also received the $100,000 Shasha Grant and the Sun Valley Writer’s Fellowship, both for debut writers. Soman’s latest book, BEASTS & BEAUTY, is an instant New York Times Bestseller and will soon be published in 10 languages. It is his seventh New York Times bestseller in a row.” (Bio taken from Author’s website). 

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About the Illustrator: “Julia Iredale is an artist living and working on Salt Spring Island, BC.  She grew up as an un-schooler on a sheep farm off the coast of British Columbia, before moving to Vancouver to study illustration at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she graduated in 2015. She now works as a freelance illustrator for clients around the world, specializing in book cover design and illustration for children’s and young adult literature. Her work is inspired by her passion for mythology, history, and a love of fairy tales and fantasy of all kinds, weaving these influences together to create whimsical characters and mysterious worlds.” (Bio taken from Illustrator’s website)

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Goodness is no weapon against the possessed.”

You’ve heard of Beauty and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, but have you heard their stories like this? Soman Chainani creates a new world of fairytales in Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales, a collection of classic stories told with a twist. Following well-known favorites such the Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and Red-Riding Hood (to name just a few), Chainani takes us on a magical journey of reimagined tales of a time long ago. Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales is full of brilliant renditions of classic stories with exquisite illustrations to match. This collection is perfect for anyone who needs a little something extra in their fairy tales—or maybe even a little something darker. 

This collection completely blew me away. I was awed by Chainani’s incredible ability to take a tried and true story that I’ve heard hundreds of times, and spin it into something new. His reimagining of classic tales with new characters, with inclusive backgrounds and sexualities, was a refreshing twist on a genre usually characterized by a homogeneous palette. I especially loved the illustrations by Julia Iredale; her talent completely brings the stories to life. Her colors were rich and moody, perfectly matching the darker elements of Chainani’s writing. Perhaps most importantly, Chainani’s stories tell of a world where all are included, even in the darkest parts of the forest. Everyone has a chance to be the hero in this spellbinding collection; everyone has a chance to be the villain. Beasts and Beauty: Dangerous Tales is a story undaunted by tradition and unafraid to break the mold and birth something entirely new. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will too. 

PRR Assistant Director, Sophie Applin