As a wholesome Beauty and the Beast retelling, Second Kingdom by Rebecca Reddell earned 4.5 virtuous stars from me (rounded up)!
The First Kingdom is dying. Flowers no longer bloom. Black eclipses the sun. Soil oozes with sludge. Diminishing crops threaten starvation. And “the sickness” plagues more and more townspeople.
Seventeen-year-old Roz knows who’s to blame for the curse tormenting her kingdom: the elusive and evil Beast. With pale blueish skin and fanged teeth, the Beast lives in the castle seen in the distance, ominously positioned between the First and Second Kingdoms—the only surviving realms after the last world war.
Alongside the children and young adults of First Kingdom, Roz has been training for the last ten years to destroy the Beast. If Roz and her fellow fighters kill him, most believe the curse will be broken.
The Beast (King Ezra), however, isn’t so sure his death will have the desired result, though he suspects that sacrifice is indeed part of the antidote. At least, Queen Ada of the Second Kingdom (known as the witch queen) eluded to this when she turned the handsome king into a horrid beast after he tried to wage war against her kingdom.
On the day Roz and the First Kingdom’s band of young-fighters storm Beast’s castle, something goes terribly wrong. If only Roz could remember how she ended up locked in one of the castle’s bedchambers with a concussion.
Will she survive her captivity? Can the curse be broken to save her kingdom? Is King Ezra as beastly as he looks?
ROSES ARE RED:
Vibe: Second Kingdom generates the same inviting feel as the animated Disney classics that I love: Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Cinderella. A parent could read this story to their elementary-aged child and a middle schooler could read it themselves. Adults will enjoy it, too! There is something delightful and entertaining for everyone.
Personally, I didn’t consider Second Kingdom as a Young Adult novel. These days, YA tends to be edgy in language and content, similar to a PG-13 movie. In contrast, this book has the innocence and politeness that makes it ageless. The worst curse-word is “Dang it” and the deadliest weapon is a butter knife. (If I considered Second Kingdom as a YA, I would’ve rated it lower. For me, the genre is “Mythology and Folk Tales” for all ages.)
Banter: I loved the snarky and flirty exchanges between Beast and Roz. I also enjoyed conversations between Beast and his butler Buford. This banter was my favorite part of Second Kingdom since the basic plot of Beauty and the Beast is already a hit with me.
Easy Reading: This book is a quick, touching read! A family treasure, for sure! I can imagine reading this book aloud to the kids on a road trip. Everyone would enjoy 🙂
Theme: Second Kingdom is a story of finding love, learning to sacrifice, and not judging a book by its cover.
VIOLETS ARE BLUE:
Unnecessary details: Every now and then, too much time was spent on information that didn’t drive the plot forward or is universally known…like whether to ice or heat a shoulder injury or how to make a salad, for example. This temporarily wilted tension.
Repetition: There was a bit of repetition of concepts both in dialogue and narrative, though this might work perfectly for a younger reader.
ALL IN ALL, ENJOYMENT THROUGH AND THROUGH:
Second Kingdom is a wholesome folk tale for the entire family! (Writing innocent characters is refreshing!) This Beauty and the Beast retelling earned 4.5 sweet rosy-blooms from me!!!
Note: The cover is lovely!!!