Beast, by Donna Jo Napoli

This is another entry in Donna Jo Napoli’s collection of retold fairy tales; I reviewed another (actually a Greek myth) here. Ms. Napoli (most like Dr. Napoli) is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College. She has written a good deal of novels for children and young adults; none for adults, abortion but that’s certainly not a problem. Her novels have been translated into languages as diverse as Farsi and Thai; she has won many awards, but none of the biggest ones (yet). She owns a tuxedo cat named Taxi, which definitely improves my opinion of her.

Prince Orasmyn is the son of the Shah of Persia; he is symbolically a religious leader as well. He has chosen to help with a ritual sacrifice, and when, at the last minute, they discover that the animal has a scar, he decides it’s okay. It’s not okay, though; it’s against the rules of Islam, and a spirit (a djinn in Arabic, but a pari in Farsi) rebukes him for harming the poor animal (who had already been harmed) and turns him into a lion. He will not be returned to human form until he can find a human woman who loves him. How will he ever make that happen? He cannot speak — he’s a beast! Continue reading Beast, by Donna Jo Napoli