"I am not beautiful...."
Knife's entire existence has been as twisted as his flesh and his face. The only thing beautiful in his life is his sister. When Gwennie is obliged to turn a suitor down because she fears to leave her brother to the brutality of their village, Knife is desperate for anything to ensure her happiness.
Her suitor's cousin offers him a way out, but it won't be easy. Aerie-Smith has been cursed to walk upright in the form of a beast, and his beloved village suffers from the same spell. Aerie-Smith offers Gwen a trousseau and some hope, if only Knife will keep him company on his island for the span of a year and perform one "regrettable task" at year's end.
Knife is unprepared for the form the island's curse takes on his own misshapen body. In one moment of magic, he's given the body of his dreams - and he discovers that where flesh meets spirit and appearance meet reality, sometimes the only place to find truth is in the darkness of a lover's arms.
©2010 Amy Lane (P)2015 Dreamspinner Press
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This story is a such a fantastic twist on a fairy tale, but like the original fairy tales that were full of blood and horror and killing and hope and love and redemption.
This story is beautiful and special and wonderful and strange and fantastic.
The character of Naef (called "Knife" by almost all) is so hurt, closed off and untrusting at the beginning (with good reason) but by the end has blossomed into such a wonderful character who burrowed under my skin and into my heart.
Nick J. Russo knocks it out of the park with this one. I'll admit, I wasn't really sure about Naef's character voice in the beginning, but it grew on me, as much as the character did. I just LOVED the narration.
"If I could give it more than 5 stars I would"
The story is a slightly warped “Beauty and The Beast”, with a strong theme of inner beauty and humility.
Naef/Knife is a deformed young man who suffers at the hands of cruel villagers but is indulged with love by his sister and mother. He’s a master craftsman with wood, and has trained himself in defense with knives, thus his nick-name, a play on his real name, Knife.
Aerie-Smith is a Prince whose pride got him cursed into lion form. (There’s more to it than this, but this is a rough interpretation to save the story from being “spoiled”.) Like the original fairy-tale he must do something to overcome his curse and save not only himself but his entire village from permanently turning into the animal forms they’ve been cursed with.
When Naef’s sister meets Aerie’s cousin, they fall in love but she won’t go with her beau and leave Naef. So, a bargain is struck wherein Naef can receive gold and peace and a new life in exchange for 18 months of his life as the “companion” to Aerie on his island after doing a “regrettable task”.
On the way to the island Aerie and Naef cement the budding friendship/love that started on the boat and continued on land. There is a lot of magic and story that I don’t want to share because it gives too much away. But it’s beautiful and oh… so creative.
Aerie tells Naef that at the end of his time, there will be a “regrettable task” he’ll have to undertake but the rest will be lovely. When it becomes clear just what the task is – well, of course the angst begins.
Fortunately, Amy is a brilliant writer and finds a way to give us our HEA and it is truly magical.
I have to say, I avoided this book because it looked so dark and angsty… and well, it is. But it’s not even the darkest in Amy’s repertoire. Naef is a tortured soul, but he’s funny. Aerie is too good to be true, but vulnerable and sweet. The magic is unique and compelling and the story reads so quickly it’s over before you know it.
It’s just that good. Amy shows us with stories like this that she is a true master craftsman, a true expert, a true wordsmith. She harnesses the words and forces them into submission giving us a fairy tale, a cautionary tale, a look at modern morality and a love story all wrapped together. It reminds me of both “Brute” by Kim Fielding (another masterful tale) and Alice In Wonderland. The story gives us a moral but without banging you on the head with it.
I’m always surprised by her breadth – from the light and fluffy, through timely and contemporary, to otherworldly and creative – Amy can write it all and do it well.
As for the audio.
Oh. My. God. Nick J Russo has done so many of Amy’s books and I was scratching my head at this… trying to figure out how that’d work. How would he voice this, it’s so different from his other narrations.
I should not have worried.
He was amazing. Truly. His Naef is spelendid. Grouchy, snooty, prickly and wonderful. Aerie is just the right amount of good with a dash of sensual to make their unlikely pairing work.
I was so glad I experienced this book as an audiobook for my first pass – it was a fantastic listening experience and I highly recommend this method of partaking this story.
I can’t give it more than 5 of 5 stars – but I would. 6, 7 maybe 8.
"Fantastic version of Beauty and the Beast"
This is a wonderfully creative version of Beauty and the Beast. I have to say I enjoyed the audiobook more than the ebook. This is completely due to the wonderful performance of Nick Russo; he really knocked this one out of the park. In this version of the classic, Knife was born with a deformity and had been tortured by the people in his village all his life. A brutal assault on him as a child has made him into a dark and bitter person with everyone except his family. He has a fiercely supportive and protective family but has resigned himself that he would be alone all his life. That is until he is given the chance to make life better for his family by doing an "unspeakable task". Aerie-Smith (what a great name) is a noble that has the face and body of a lion. In this AU, that is unusual, but not so unusual he doesn't walk through the village and though people take note, they don't seem to react to it. Knife travels to Aerie-Smith's island and there begins Knife's journey of transformation. It is truly a wonderful take on this story and as I said, Nick Russo's performance is fantastic.
"beautiful version of a known fairytale"
both versions are great. this is a very good book
both protagonistis were very lovable . second characters were all very interesting also
i always prefer audible version bcs when the naration is good like in this case, you really feel the story come to life.
amy lane is a very good writer. she took the very known fairytale of beauty and the beast and made her version almost as lovely and romantic and interesting as the original.
"fabulous short story."
Independent reviewer for Divine Magazine, I was gifted the audio copy of this book for review.
Knife is damaged, is twisted both inside and out. He loves his mother, and his sister. When Gwennie turns down a suitor because her brother needs her, Knife knows he has to do something. Said suitor's cousin offers him a way for Gwennie to marry, and be happy, without worrying about Knife. Aerie-Smith asks for just a year of Knife's life, just a year of companionship, and the job of a very regrettable task at the end. Aerie-Smith is cursed, as his beloved island and its inhabitants. Knife is unprepared for what the curse does to him, to his body, to his very soul.
This is, as far as I can see, the first book I have read or listened to by this author, but I have one other sitting, languishing on the iPod. I think that they will not be the last!
A fairy tale twist, told in the first person, from only Knife's POV. And that is the only fault I can find with it. Had this been a READ review, that would probably have led me to give it 4 stars for the book.
HOWEVER this is an AUDIO review, and I find I love LISTENING to single POV much more than I like reading them. And I also try to separate the book from the narration. Can't do that so well with the single POV thing.
I loved the way Knife changes through the book, not just what it said about those changes, the way its put across by the narrator, Nick J Russo. His voice softens, when Knife is on the island, as he learns about Aerie-Smith and his island. As he learns to love Aerie-Smith, and he learns what the regrettable task is. His voice hardens again, towards the end, but I'm not telling you why.
I loved the way Russo portrayed all the hate and anger in Knife, and equally, all that love he has, boarded up inside his heart, that only Aerie-Smith can set free.
This is the first work of Nick J. Russo I have listened to. It makes a mighty welcome change to listen to a book narrated in a non-American accent. I loved the way he said words the way I would say them, not the way Americans would say them. His reading voice is clear and concise, his difference between voices is equally clear, and it made for very easy listening. I will add his work to my list of narrators that I auto buy. I loved listening to him, and would love to hear more.
The book itself is well written, with the regrettable task not revealed until it is in the book, but I had an idea that was what was coming. Its nice to see things coming at ya, once in a while!
Had I only READ this book, as previously mentioned, the single POV would have put a four star rating on it, since its not my favourite way to read. BUT I listened to this one, and so...
5 stars for the book,
5 stars for the narration
**same worded review will appear on Goodreads, on Audible.com and on the ebook version of this book on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. Along with the Divine Magazine listing for this book, just as soon as I figre out how to get all the narrator information on there too!**
"Different, excellent book"
How much he really brought the characters to life in this very different setting.
The Scene on the hill... The surprise and emotions that were revealed.
Another hit from Amy Lane.
This was very different from some of the books I've read of Ms. Lane's. It was set in a completely different setting than what I'm used to, but it totally worked for the characters. I found myself falling in love with both the harsh, hard men as they found their way in the dark (Sometimes quite literally).
Although we get the angst and love that Amy is quite simply excellent at, there is so much more going on and I loved it. The fact that she could turn a character who isn't beautiful with an in your face beautiful personality, she manages to make you love the character and see all that is hidden behind the hurt and pain.
I must say that I absolutely LOVED Knife's sister. That is all.
Nick Russo did an AWESOME job with narrating this book. I've listen to many of his books now and I actually didn't realize it was him because he had such a different sound that TOTALLY fit the characters and the setting of the book.
This is a remarkable and beautifully written and perfectly narrated story!
I highly recommend it and the performance could not have been better.
A lovely, wonderful fairytale with some familiar elements but also unique and interesting. Not a lot of heat. More warmth than panting sexuality. You have to love both Naef and Aerie-Smith. Though Naef wasn't particularly lovable at the beginning, you can totally understand his bitterness and anger. I'm so glad he had such a loving mother and sister. This has been my favorite of the penny maker tales.
"Finding love unexpectedly & as your true self"
This short tale was such a good story and a good romance. It was heart-warming, plausible, and developed. And the magical aspect of the story was a great addition and used very well. And the beauty and the beast concept was helpful to tell us a tale of finding love when you NEVER expect to have it in your life & when you don’t believe you deserve it, but grabbing it when it comes. And, as a result of that love, we see it’s possible to learn to love yourself.
It’s a m/m romance, but there is very little sex. And what’s there is not explicit, though the author uses the word c**k. And the cherry on top was that the narrator was great.
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