To Alex Flinn, who created ‘Beastly‘.
Dear Ms Flinn,
I write here because I can’t write to you directly- I have nothing very important to communicate to you, you see. But I also write here because I am allowed to use the Trebuchet font which looks really nice on my blog (and more people can appreciate it here). Most particularly, I write here and to you because, of the many books you wrote, I have read two and only fallen completely in love with the first.
I found the first few pages of Beastly wholly entertaining and you found a wonderful way to grab my attention. The next few disappointed, because I assumed too quickly that I knew where you were headed. I did indeed know exactly where you intended to take me, but you did the job so well that by the end of the prom night I had settled in very comfortably in my couch and stayed there till the wee hours of the morning when I finally nodded off.
The funny thing is, I criticized almost every turn you took through the story. Kyle, or as he would rather be called, Adrian, was given far too much independence and his father’s indifferent character was unbelievably convenient and ridiculously easy to manipulate. Linda’s worthless parent was also easily disposed off. It nagged me that their story had so few conventional obstacles to defeat and none of them had anything to do with parental disapproval or interference.
I did love it. Odd, unbelievable and so very simple, ‘Beastly’ both irritated and beguiled me. I left it with a disgruntled feeling after the first read. Neither the witch nor the transformation was, for me, as ridiculously made believe as the moneyed ease with which Adrian hid for many months and later courted Linda.
A month later, I read it again. I forgot my previous complaints because Adrian’s disillusionment touched me. His gradual change, or really his slow steps into adulthood, charmed and made me shake my head and smile. His bumbling efforts to befriend Linda had me biting my lip and grinning very hard. The magic that had been spun through the book finally got to me and this time I closed it with a satisfied sigh. I knew that I would read it again.
Now, I read A Kiss in Time soon after that and felt the weight of my disappointment in this one settle heavily on my shoulders. I had hoped that you would bring Talia (sleeping beauty\ Aurora\ Briar Rose) to our time as beautifully as you brought Adrian (the beast\ Prince) and Linda (the beauty\ Belle) to New York.
This time, however, the number of things that I was expected to tolerate in the story were too many and on top of all that Jack and Talia barely had the time to fall in love with each other.
I’m sighing very loudly as I write this.
When you read your own work now, are you happy with how you constructed that story? Please, don’t be.
I could understand the king blaming the princess for the centuries they lost, I can accept the witch’s story of a wrong judgement and her own sufferings because of it, I can even believe that the sudden appearance of Euphrasia didn’t bring thousands of scholars and media reporters into that land- all because it turned into an entertainment park- but come on, in too short a time they adjusted too quickly. Didn’t any of the villagers have a say? Why did Jack’s mother let Talia live with them and how on earth did the two fall in love? Jack irritated me more than Talia did, sometimes, and they certainly didn’t seem to like or even head towards liking each other.
Despite it being a fairytale, rounding things up the right way is important, isn’t it? I realised on reading Beastly the second time that you had rounded things off exactly as they should have been. The story resonated the centuries old tale perfectly. A Kiss in Time, however, started off very nicely but got lost somewhere in time before it could reach us in the now.
Folklores rarely had to worry about the details because there weren’t too many details that they bothered to put into the very short stories. But these are novels and they warm me and suffuse me with the hundreds of tiny particulars that help solidify their shifty, magical reality, and when those slim threads seem to get lost in a jumbled tapestry, I can’t feel anything less than thoroughly disappointed.
I learn from every book I read.
I learnt several new and intriguing patterns of thought from Beastly, which I hope my imagination can learn to weave, and in a way, I owe yet more to A Kiss in Time because it taught me what I expect from my literature.
I want to thank you whole heartedly, Ms. Flinn, for writing both books- but especially Beastly- and for not reading my blog, since I could not have written this letter otherwise.