In the beginning there was light… Okay you caught me. I forget how the Bible actually starts. Don’t tell the nuns!!!Of Beast and Beauty starts out much like a very old fairytale, whispered from the voice The Pure Heart.The Dark Heart and The Pure Heart were ONE being in the beginning, before humans came raising domes around their cities to keep out those they called Monstrous. For anyone “touched” by The Pure Heart’s magic gift turned flesh to scales.Humans inside their domed cities made sacrifices to The Dark Heart in exchange for safety, and after The Pure Heart made one last attempt to win the humans back to his side by going to their gates and begging them for acceptance and “restore the innocence I’d lost when they had begun to call me god and devil.”The Pure Heart found no help from the domed cities or from the Monstrous outside the walls, so the being set a curse upon the world that the Monstrous should never again shed a tear… But the Smooth Skins were cursed that some of their children would be born with the Monstrous traits they hated… And all the others born with “missing pieces, trapped in bodies as twisted and wrong as the Dark Heart they worshipped.”The only way to break the curse is if a Smooth Skin and a Monstrous can love one another above all else. Only then will everything be put right.And this is where Of Beast and Beauty begins…In the city of Yuan, Isra is a Princess bound to a tower by day… and unknowingly stalks the streets by night. One night as she runs amongst the magic roses of the city, there is someone watching her. Someone who doesn’t belong there.Gem is from outside the dome, his Desert People dug under the walls so they could sneak in and steal the roses that were in his chief’s visions and supposed to save their people.Isra, the blind Queen, of one of the three settlements left of the original fifteen that came to the new world. Her skin is rough and peeling, almost translucent – but otherwise she was unharmed by the curse.Gem is Isra’s prisoner after his people invade the dome and her father is killed. He speaks in the common tongue of Isra’s people and is far more than he originally appeared.Of Beast and Beauty is told over four seasons, and in alternating chapters of Gem and Isra. I adored getting to know Gem and Isra. Each of them having their own hardships to overcome, and seeing them grow beyond what their separate worlds had told them they SHOULD or COULD be.Stacey Jay completely blew me away with the rich, colorful world in Of Beast and Beauty. Gem and Irsa have taken seats upon my favorite couples AND characters lists! This one is not to be missed!