Also by this author: When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle, with Love
Series: St. Rosetta's Academy #1
Published by Simon Pulse on February 18, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Retelling, Romance
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Sandhya Menon’s latest book, Of Curses and Kisses, is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I really enjoyed Menon’s spin on the classic fairytale. I thought it was very original and I especially liked the fact that she set her story at an elite international boarding school.
When the story opens, Princess Jaya Rao and her younger sister, Isha, have just arrived at their new boarding school, which is nestled in the mountains of Colorado. The sisters have relocated halfway around the world to escape some negative media attention that Isha found herself caught in the middle of. Their parents are hoping the time away will lead the media to get bored and move on to another scandal. Even though Jaya herself has done nothing wrong, she is completely devoted to her family and preserving the Rao reputation so she agrees to go and keep an eye on Isha. Jaya also has an ulterior motive. She knows that Grey Emerson attends the school and thinks this is the perfect opportunity to exact revenge on him. There is bad blood between the Rao and Emerson families that can be traced back to a stolen ruby and a subsequent retaliatory curse and Jaya is certain that the Emersons are responsible for her family’s latest troubles.
Ironically, Grey Emerson is also at the school because of the curse. His cold-hearted father believes so thoroughly in the curse that he has cut all ties with his doomed son and shipped him off to boarding school. And since the curse threatens to wipe out his family line and he’s currently the last male heir, Grey can’t help but be concerned.
As one expects when reading one of Menon’s novels, both of her main characters are quite likable. I loved Jaya’s devotion to her family and how thoroughly she watched over her sister. I also liked getting inside of her head once she actually meets Grey and realizes he may not be the monster she thinks he is. I really felt for her as she becomes more and more conflicted about what she should do. I also really liked Grey and just felt tremendous sympathy for him. He has spent his whole life tortured by this awful curse and feeling unloved by his father. Grey believes there’s a good chance he will die once he turns 18, so he keeps others at a distance so no one will end up devastated if he really does die. As much as I enjoyed reading Jaya’s conflicted internal monologues, I thought Grey’s were excellent as well, especially once he starts getting to know Jaya and wants to be close to her in spite of the curse and the Rao vs. Emerson feud. My favorite character though was actually Jaya’s sister, Isha. Isha is a STEM girl (YES!) who just wants to live her life without feeling constricted by her family’s royal status. Isha is a firecracker who stole the spotlight in every scene she was in, and I adored her. I wanted more of her and would totally be on board for reading a story that focused more on her.
While I really did enjoy Of Curses and Kisses, I won’t say that it’s my favorite Menon novel. I liked the characters, but didn’t love them with quite the same intensity that I’ve loved some of Menon’s other protagonists like Dimple and Rishi or Sweetie and Ashish. I also thought the pacing was a little slow at times. Overall though, I still thought it was a solid read and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it, especially to anyone who enjoys Beauty and the Beast retellings.