Happy Friday! Today I’ve got a fairy tale retelling for you – Rita Stradling’s Ensnared. It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, set in the “near-future,” where androids (humanoid robots, not the operating system!) are just starting to become a real thing. If you’ve seen the television show Humans, that’s kinda what I was picturing. Slightly less creepy than Westworld.
I’ve only read a handful of fairy tale retellings, and most of those have been from Marissa Meyer, so I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an expert here. To me, the good ones are the ones where you can recognize the similarities to the original story, but it doesn’t feel like a rehash. I thought Stradling did a fairly decent job with Ensnared. The parallels to Beauty and the Beast were pretty obvious, but also distinct enough to be interesting. I liked the sci-fi aspect with artificial intelligence, and appreciated that it was “dumbed down” enough for someone with very little scientific interest to grasp.
Overall, I enjoyed the story, but I definitely understand why people are criticizing it. With good science fiction (which is what this is, in my mind), you really have to be able to suspend disbelief – which places a LOT of pressure on the author to create a world that’s rich in detail and context. This is where Ensnared falls short. I read most of the book with a hefty dose of skepticism for where the story was going. Truthfully, I picked it apart, saying to myself, “well how is she going to shower/eat/use the bathroom?” or “that’s never going to work” or “yeah right, like that’s reasonable.” What kept me reading was less about knowing what happened than it was knowing whether Stradling was going to give me answers to these pressing questions of mine. (Some she did, some she didn’t.)
Despite that, though, Ensnared was a quick, light read, and if you’re a fan of retellings, definitely give this one a shot.
Kindle Edition: 419 pages Published: May 2017 (self-published) Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Ensnared on Goodreads
A Near-Future Retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.
Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.
To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.
Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse.