BOOK REVIEW: As Old as Time: A Twisted Tale by Liz Brazwell Sheds Light on Belle’s Backstory
As Old as Time is the third book in the Twisted Tales series. At the time of writing, the series consists of five titles published over the past four years, with the sixth newly released this April 2019. Each of the novels is stand-alone, meaning you can read whichever stories intrigue you the most in whichever order you feel like. For reviewing purposes, I will be reading the full series in chronological order of publication, and I will be completely honest and spoiler-free in letting you know what I thought!
Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise! As Old as Time by Liz Braswell explores what would have happened in the tale of Beauty and the Beast had it been Belle’s own mother who cursed the castle. Read on for my full review of the novel, which started out new, and then got a bit alarming.
“It matters because I’m trapped here with you, because of whatever happened ten years ago, and, oh, yes, it turns out the Enchantress was my mother!”
The thing about Beauty and the Beast is, that love it or hate it, you can’t deny it’s full of gaping plot holes. Who was Belle’s mother? Why did everyone in the village have no idea a huge castle full of enchanted crockery was just sitting there, a few miles out? Wasn’t there a huge age difference between Belle and the Beast? Did the Beast actually age at all throughout his time being cursed? Where were the Beast’s parents through all this? Who could ever learn to love a beast?
Well, I’m delighted to report that this book holds the answers we’ve been longing for. Answers that make so much sense, it’s a wonder that backstory provided by the live-action movie didn’t match up. As Old as Time dives into a rich tale of Maurice and Rosalind – Belle’s enchantress mother – and the magical yet mean world they resided in, leading all the way up to Rosalind herself placing the curse upon the Beast. Even though this is such a twist, Braswell writes this story in a way which really could serve as a wholly believable prequel to Beauty and the Beast. For that, 5/5 stars.
All this comes in Part One (of three) of the novel, with the fairytale narrative running parallel to the story we already know, which pans out identical to the film up until Belle finds the enchanted rose. If it were up to me, I would have this first third of the novel as a standalone. In my opinion, it works so well and gives so much insight to the world of Beauty and the Beast that more of the same should have been written.
Because, the thing is, once Belle finds that rose it gets a bit… twisted. Which I suppose one should expect, especially considering the title of the series.
Maybe it was because I found the first 150 pages so perfect, it seemed like such a let down when the entire tone of novel just shifted for parts 2 and 3. The level of excitement and storytelling just seemed to drop. Twists happen (which I won’t spoil), it gets a bit political, Belle launches on a quest of self-discovery, the curse gets in the way etc. Whilst it was fast-paced the novel just seemed… long. After being so enthralled by part one of this tale it really bothered me that the preceding 300 pages just didn’t match. I don’t know. It just wasn’t for me.
It’s worth noting that this novel wasn’t at all as violent as the previous instalments in the series. Apart from one weird situation in a lunatic asylum which I won’t unpack. Braswell’s descriptions are, as always, stunning and magical. All of the loved characters feature, although Gaston (my, what a guy) could have been mentioned a lot more as the antagonist. A handful of new characters came into the story early on, who tied in to the story so perfectly it’s hard to remember that they weren’t there before.
In conclusion, I would recommend anyone read this novel to get the intricate and wonderful backstory Braswell has written for Belle. I just personally wouldn’t read past part one again. I’d be most interested to hear what anyone else thinks about this one, so if you’ve read it please let us know your opinions in the comments!
Have you read As Old as Time, or any of the other novels in the Twisted Tales series? If so, be sure to let us know what you thought. Also, keep an eye out for my review of the next book in the series – which looks to be quite a bit different!