Merchant’s Ransom: Of Beast and Beauty

September 12, 2015 Review 24 ★★★★

Merchant’s Ransom: Of Beast and Beauty
Of Beast and Beuty by Stacey Jay
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Delacorte
Source: Won
Pages: 391
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Genres: Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Retelling, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret...

In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.

Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.

As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Every now and then I don’t feel like writing a normal review. I want to express my thoughts in a light and fun way with plenty of gifs. Lo and behold the ransom review was born. These were originally for my pirate themed review blog but came over with me when I joined Readers in Wonderland. They now pop up every now and then when I’m bored/too lazy to write my usual reviews.

Want to know what all the headings mean? This post might be helpful.


Major Selling Points

Beauty and the Best Retelling

can't say no

Beauty and the Beast retellings are one of the stories I can never say no to. No matter how hard I try, I need them in my hands. I was particularly interested in OF BEAST AND BEAUTY because of the sci fi spin on the tale.

Blind Main Character


I’ve never read a book about a blind character before. I wanted to see how the author would describe everything when there was such a big sense missing. View Spoiler »



OF BEAST AND BEAUTY’s plot moved a lot faster than I was expecting. Which is both good and bad. Often scenes were briefly mentioned that I would have liked to read about in full. As a retelling goes it was pretty good. A very interesting take on the curse aspect. I loved all the religious/magic/history of the world and how it interwove with the character’s dilemma. I also enjoyed how it’s never completely revealed which character is really the beauty and which is the beast.



The story was told in alternating narration from Isra and Gem with the occasional chapter from another character thrown in. It was interesting how the narration of these characters differed and I liked how it reflected their beliefs and upbringing. Isra’s chapters were particularly interesting to read due to the whole blind aspect. Gem’s were a good contrast with him having sight, but also being unfamiliar with the world Isra grew up in.




Gem was a pretty nice character but thinking back didn’t leave that much of an impression. I liked him well enough, and he was extremely driven to help his people but was also very open minded. Definitely a person who’d prefer to make peace rather than conflict if given the option.


poor isra

For a character who has been raised with the knowledge that one day she will kill herself as a sacrifice one day, Isra was surprisingly happy. Happy being relative. Her life sucked. Stuck in a tower for her life, only escaping at night into the garden. The escape in which was an amazing feat in itself because Isra is blind. She truly is an amazing character, never letting her disability get the best of her if she can avoid it.



While I did enjoy the romance between Isra and Gem I really wish we got more time to see it develop. It’s not too fast, but it didn’t develop slow enough either. Really all I wanted was a few more scenes as they got to know each other and realise they weren’t each others enemies. Instead such interactions were some of the ones only briefly mentioned in a sentence or two.


  • Gem x Isra
  • The book x less time skips


Rating Report
Overall: 3.6

24 Responses to “Merchant’s Ransom: Of Beast and Beauty”

  1. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I’m not really interested in retellings, but I do have a soft spot for Beauty and the Beast and all things related. I would be very interested to see how a blind character was handled. I don’t remember one before, not in YA at least. Overall, this sounds like a flawed, but interesting read. Thanks for your review.

    • Bec

      You are a rarity among the bookworms I think haha. So many people love retellings and I’m one of them!! Beauty and the Beast has inspired some of the best.

      I think I’ve heard of one or two other books with a blind MC but can’t remember them of the top of my head.

  2. Vane J.

    It’s so refreshing to see a blind character! How of them do I actually know? ZERO, so it’s great to see this. Plus, you’re right – it’s interesting to see how the author would handle this. And yes!!! Beauty and the Beast retelling ftw!!
    Vane J. recently posted…Review: Under The Dusty Moon

    • Bec

      There’s a few others but I can’t remember which books they were in right now! I definitely want to read more about them though.

      Beauty and the Beast retellings are the best!

  3. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Cool! I didn’t know that this book had a sci-fi twist to it! I’ve seen it around so it was on my radar, but I think that I was fresh off a few B&B retellings at that point, so I wasn’t especially keen on another one straight away. Anyway, I definitely DO want to check this one out now, despite it’s plot moving a little too fast at times and the characters and romance not leaving a HUGE impression. Thanks for reminding me that I need to read this one Bec and as usual, I enjoy your Ransom Reviews :D
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Fandom Mashup #19

    • Bec

      The sci-fi element is a massive part of the story and the setting! I hope you enjoy it when you eventually get to it :)

  4. Alise

    Tom Hiddleston whoop whoop! Anyways… I’m not sure this one is for me. I have a really hard time with sci-fi and I’m kind of getting tired of reading so many Beauty and the Beast retellings-I’ve enjoyed the ones I have read and kind of want to leave it at that. Plus if the romance wasn’t developed well-meh.

    • Bec

      She was treated so poorly, I felt so bad for her. More time to develop the world and stuff would have been great!

      Thanks! These reviews are fun to write. Hopefully I get time to do a few more like this soon :)

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