Review of The Misadventures of an Amateur Naturalist by Ceinwen Langley
Sapphic Beauty and the Beast! When I saw the cover and title for this book I knew I had to read it. We aren’t supposed to judge or pick a book by its cover, but sometimes you just have to. I was completely sold already but then I realized that this was also a Beauty and the Beast retelling; I felt like I struck gold. I’m such a sucker for retellings and B&B (the Disney version) which came out when I was a kid, holds a special place in my heart since it reminds me of my mother who loved it dearly. I’m happy to say that this held up under my pretty high expectations and I thought this was a good historical-fiction retelling of B&B.
This is actually the second sapphic B&B retelling that I have read in the last couple of years. Thorn by Anna Burke was really good and one I would easily recommend. I did like Thorn a bit more than this book, but they were quite different. This book is not as fantastical or as dark as Thorn. Don’t get me wrong, this book is not a fluffy retelling and it definitely has some grit, but this also has a very historical-fiction feel to it.
This book really has two parts. Part one is all about Celeste wanting to pursue her dreams of becoming a biologist, and her relationships with her friends and family. I do have to make it clear that the first half has a slower pace. Think classic Victorian times historical-fiction novel that is about Celeste and her family and what they are going through. If you know B&B, you will know certain things that are going to happen. However, I still had to laugh at myself because the book takes a turn I did not see coming, yet I totally should have. I think it shows how much I was into the story and Langley’s writing.
Part two is all about Celeste at the manor/castle and her time with the beast. While I enjoyed the whole book, this really is the part that we all are waiting to read about. Watching Celeste’s journey with the beast, how her emotions change from terror to friendship, and maybe beyond, was well done and enjoyable to read. The romance was slow, sweet and a bit on the lighter side, but remember this is beauty and the beast which means an actual beast, so the romance fits in just right for what the story is.
One disappointment for me, and an issue I think some people will have, is that we don’t even meet the beast until the second half of the book. This is a slower-moving book that needs some patience from the reader. I enjoyed the slower first half that doesn’t include the beast, but what bothered me is that we just don’t get enough time with them together. On the positive side, and in hearing this bumped my review up to a full 4 stars, is that there is probably going to be a sequel. Once you take that into account, the slower beginning makes much more sense. Langley really took the time to build this world up and as a reader, I absolutely want more. The main story feels complete, but there are these little balls still left in the air that Langley could take and just run with for the sequel. Plus, the relationship between the mains is just beginning and I want to go on the journey of their possible love story.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable sapphic Beauty and the Beast retelling. I was hooked from the beginning and even during the slower parts I just wanted to keep reading. Langley writes well and this retelling feels like it does justice to the original while adding its own unique spin to it. This is a good book on its own, but if it is the start of a series like it appears to be, then I actually like it even more. I would easily recommend this to fans of retellings and historical-fiction books, as long as you don’t mind a book with a slower pace in parts. I can’t wait for book two!
An ARC was given to me for a review.