Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been obsessed with fairy tales. My fascination only grew as I became older, and discovered the darker, original stories penned by Hans Christen Anderson, Charles Perrault, and the Grim Brothers. You can imagine my delight, therefore, when I stumbled across Hubert and Kerascoët’s latest graphic novel entitled Beauty. Using elements from many of the darker stories, Hubert and Kerascoët have spun a fairy tale of their own that I found absolutely captivating!
Beauty centers around Coddie, an ugly, repulsive girl who constantly reeks of fish. Despite all of her attempts to win them over, her horrible looks and repulsive smell cause her to be shunned by her fellow villagers. Coddie’s life is changed drastically, however, after she unintentionally frees a fairy from a horrible curse, and is granted any wish that she desires. Coddie asks to become beautiful, but her wish turns out to be more powerful than she ever could have imagined. The sight of Coddie’s beauty drives men to insanity, and every one who sees her wishes to possess her for themselves.
The result is a compelling story that I found impossible to put down! Hubert’s writing is brilliant and his characterization, especially of Coddie, is flawless. Transforming from victim to aggressor and eventually to savior, I enjoyed watching how Coddie finally discovers her independence and true inner beauty.
Not only was the writing and the plot irresistible, but also the art itself. Some may find the style cartoonish, but each panel is wonderfully illustrated and helps to further the themes of beauty and corruption. I especially loved Hubert and Kerascoët’s decision to continue to portray Coddie as ugly to the reader even after her transformation, effectively emphasizing the fact that outer beauty is just an illusion.
Hands down Beauty is one of the best graphic novels that I have read in a while! With it’s intriguing characters, beautiful art, and powerful plot, this fairy tale for grown ups should be added to every graphic novel lover’s to-read list!