This is a story published by Disney that is a companion story to Beauty and the Beast. The story takes place between the time the Belle first arrives at the castle and the time that Belle and the Beast dance and the Beast lets Belle go.
The story starts with a scene where two sisters, Love and Death are playing chess and discussing Belle and the Beast. They argue about whether Love or Death will win out in this instance and end up making a wager. For the rest of the story Death is actively trying to thwart Belle's growing attachment to the Beast by creating an alternate reality, called Nevermore, that Belle can access through a magic book in the Beast's library. In Nevermore Belle can have all her heart's desires. She knows it isn't real, but the Countess (Death) promises that is could someday become real. Belle is torn between the friends and the glamorous life she finds in Nevermore and her growing friendships with Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, and Cogsworth in the real world.
If you are thinking that this is a cute book you could read aloud to your five-year-old Disney-princess-loving daughter, think again. This has some seriously intense and creepy scenes. The final scene when Belle figures out what Nevermore and the Countess are, nearly rivals Gaiman's Coraline in creepiness. That said, I liked this book. The pacing dragged a little in the middle, but I thought overall it was well crafted. Donnelly shows Belle and the Beast laying the foundations of a real relationship and it makes Belle's declaration of love for the Beast that occurs at the end of the movie much more believable. I will give this book to kids ages 10+ who really like the new Beauty and the Beast movie. (341 p.)