Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Gothic Fairytales #1
Released: October 31st, 2020
Warning: Animal death, starvation, illness
I received a copy of Bitterburn in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Bitterburn is the first novel in Ann Aguirre’s newest series, Gothic Fairytales. As you might have guessed, that means we’re about to dive right into another fairytale retelling, but with a few iconic twists.
Amarrah Brewer has lost nearly everything in this world. She lost her mother, and then her lover. Her father, while present, does not provide the love she so desperately needs. Nor does her stepmother, for that matter.
That is why Amarrah agreed to be the town’s sacrifice to the Keep at the End of the World. She agreed to travel there, by herself, in place of the harvest the town couldn’t afford. There, she met a most extraordinary beast.
“How ironic, I went all the way to the Keep at the End of the World to meet someone other than Owen who cares if I finish my food.”
Okay, so first things first: I am a total and complete sucker for any and all Beauty and the Beast retellings. That being said, I sincerely think that Bitterburn may just be one of my favorites thus far.
There’s a very specific reason for that. Amarrah Brewer. She is a strong, confident, and powerful individual. She is no damsel in distress, and there isn’t ever a feeling or concern about Stockholm syndrome here. It’s wonderfully refreshing.
Amarrah’s story is a heartbreaking one. I don’t think anyone could read her story and not feel moved. Likewise, there is something so wonderful about seeing her find a place for herself in this world, and kind of coming into her own.
That isn’t the only change that Ann Aguirre made to this world. Every little detail has been altered and changed, all to make this tale totally unique. Though I should probably mention that this isn’t exactly a story for younger audiences. The graphic nature of the curse, as well as the romantic plot, make sure of that.
Bitterburn takes more of a Norse mythology twist on the typically very French Beauty and the Beast plot. I enjoyed many (if not all) of the changes that came along with that. The setting, the worldview, all of it.
Another refreshing note; this retelling actually gave readers a chance to get to know the Beast (aka Njal). I don’t just mean see him here and there, but well and truly know him. His past, his fears, his passions. Everything.
All in all, it made for a highly memorable retelling, and is more than enough to leave me excited to see how the other retellings in this series will turn out.