THE RUB: The Rose Queen is a gender-swapped retelling of Beauty and the Beast, a story that's been retold more times than petals have fallen off that cursed rose. Written in the style of the old fairy tales, the story bears a similar time-honored and otherworldly mysticism in which you know: you've initiated some fantastical endeavor just by cracking open that first page. But for a story so universally familiar, The Rose Queen is anything but predictable.
All the clues are present: horrific beast, check; enchanted rose, check; super inconvenient curse, checkCheckCHECK - but they're merely mile-markers through uncharted and exciting territory. Alison McBain uses them as building blocks to create a fascinating world of looming danger, haunting secrets, and profound discoveries. Strap in, my ladythugs and gentledudes - The Rose Queen's journey takes us off the safety of the merchant's road.
THE WHO'S: Mirabella, a princess longing to take control of her life - for better or for worse - grapples between duty and independence when she's abruptly engaged to a super-sketch dude. Her refusal lands her with a nasty curse that must be broken if she wants to live, and she's exiled to an abandoned chateau to idle out her beastly days. On the upside, losing everything has enabled Mira to discover the strength and liberation she's yearned for. She takes some blows learning how to wield that power, struggling to balance the beauty and the beast within herself.
THE WHEREFORES: There's intrigue a-plenty straight out the gate, when Mira dances with a mysterious suitor, and soon after receives a curious gift from an unknown source. Even with her sheltered upbringing, her mother's death has never sat well with her, and as she discovers more about her origins, the secrets she unveils present her with deep internal challenges. All while Mira's curse lingers in the background, dwindling what's left of her humanity.
X-FACTORS: Yo, this is just the first installment in a trilogy, so not all of the rose petals will land before the end, if you catch my drift. But good news, dear readers, because the sequel is due out in the summer of 2019! In the meantime, once you've sunk your beastly teeth into The Rose Queen, you can tide yourself over with Alison's new anthology of short stories.