Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: Beauty and the Werewolf by Mercedes Lackey

Five Hundred Kingdoms, Book 6 (Book 1 review)

Tags: fantasy, magic, retelling


Practical Isabella Beauchamps manages her household while her stepmother and stepsisters engage in their beloved social outings and shopping excursions. However, on a visit to Granny in the forest, Bella is bitten by a werewolf—who turns out to be Lord Sebastian, whom no one has seen in years. Well, being a werewolf is more or less a good reason for someone to be a recluse. In order to determine whether or not Bella will turn into a werewolf from the bite, she must live at Sebastian’s place for three full months. While there, she discovers the existence of magic and The Tradition, and the fact that Sebastian’s under a curse. Can this young lady, new to magical understanding, be the one to discover who wishes Sebastian harm?


I know that Mercedes Lackey is a long-established fantasy writer, and I’ve enjoyed her unique take on fairy tales and magic in other Five Hundred Kingdom books, but unfortunately, BEAUTY AND THE WEREWOLF didn’t quite do it for me. I was expecting more, but mostly what I got was a lot of people sitting in a castle, talking and reading about magic.

It’s not that there are things wrong or bothersome about the elements of the story. I like Bella well enough: she is the type of strong and capable protagonist I can relate to. Bella’s interactions with the invisible spirits of Sebastian’s castle are pretty neat as well, good for a few chuckles. And Sebastian is a total sweetheart, the kind of slightly socially awkward love interest that is endearing in the midst of so many testosterone-fueled, my-bicep-is-bigger-than-your-bicep fictional romantic interests.

Unfortunately, I’m not really sure if there are many more unique aspects of this book to recommend it besides for the aforementioned details. When I said earlier that the book consisted of people sitting in a castle, talking and reading about magic, I was not really exaggerating. Confined to the castle, most of what Bella does is learn more about magic, and The Tradition, Godmothers, the curse… The majority of the book is one very long and drawn-out information dump on magic.

What could have been a more original story instead turned out to be an info dump disguised as the main character beginning to understand her new perspective on the world—which is weird because, as this is the sixth book in the series, there should be no info-dumping necessary for readers. Not, sadly, Mercedes Lackey’s most impressive story. In fact, I wonder if, without her established name on it, this book would’ve gotten by agents and editors at all.

Luna / Oct. 18, 2011 / Hardcover / 336pp. / $24.95

e-galley provided by NetGalley and publisher.


  1. Your review expresses my exact thoughts on this book. Meh. I hope for better in the next installment!

  2. Oh. That doesn't really inspire me to pick up the book. Hm, maybe I'll pass on this one.

  3. While I understand your position on this book, I actually think the infodumping sounds really interesting. I have loved trying to piece together all of the rules governing the Five Hundred Kingdom books. This might be a more successful read for me-we'll see :)

  4. Mercedes Lackey has never been my favorite. She's best with a co-writer.

  5. I love Mercedes Lackey, but I personally like how she retells fairy tales in her Elemental Masters series better than the Five Hundred Kingdom series.


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