Nerds and Beyond was fortunate enough to get an advance copy of the latest book by author Ashley Poston, Bookish and the Beast. This is the third book in her Once Upon a Con series. The other two books are Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale and The Princess and the Fangirl. If you haven’t read the first two books yet, it doesn’t spoil them, but it does reference some characters. Readers will enjoy this tale as old as time in a new geeky modern retelling of the fairy tale centered around fandom and conventions.
Ashley Poston is the author of five books, with her sixth, Among the Beasts and Briars, releasing October 20. She is also a fangirl and Hufflepuff who, when not writing, can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons. Poston’s books have been on the Indie Next List, Rainbow List, and has been a Goodreads Choice Finalist twice.
If you haven’t read the book yet, there are spoilers beyond here.
The female protagonist of the story is Rosie Throne, and as soon as I read the name, I had a good laugh. Where it is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, her name gives the imagery of the magical rose in a glass case. She and her father are still mourning her mother’s death. It is mentioned, and you can see it and know it is there but is not used to define the characters. It is from her mother that Rosie is introduced to the sci-fi book series of Starfield. She is a relatable chanter who is a high school senior struggling with college application essays (been there), lover of books, and conventions. She has a Cinderella moment when she meets a mysterious guy in a General Sond cosplay at ExcelsiCon. They hit it off and find they have things in common and can easily and effortlessly talk to each other. The one problem with that evening was they never told each other who they were, so what next?
Enter Sansa, no not from Game of Thrones, but the dog that Rosie follows to a not so abandoned castle in her town of Haven’s Hollow, North Carolina, so of course she goes in. With Rosie’s luck, she ends up destroying a rare first edition book and cannot pay for the damages, so she works off the debt in the library sorting and cataloging books and working alongside Vance Reigns. Yes, that Vance Reigns. He is only there to hideout from an incident in Hollywood. As to be expected, they do not get along when they first meet, even after Rosie realizes he is Ambrose Sond. But they each think the other is familiar, but from where? At least Rosie wasn’t kidnapped to get to the castle. She just has to be there to work. But as in any budding romance, the more time they spend together and get to know one another, they open up, and the walls they have put up slowly start to fall. They become more of their true selves around each other, leading up to the moment that reveals why they seem familiar with each other.
The library in this story is the perfect setting for the two characters to spend their time given the love of books of Belle and the gifting of the castle’s library to her in Beauty and the Beast. The description and imagery of the dusty library and the importance of stories by Poston was beautiful. Being surrounded by all those books also keeps Rosie’s memory of her mother with her, and there is even a connection to the castle’s library as well.
I have to admit there is another character that I would have loved to know more about, and that is Rosie’s father. He is a librarian, “Space Dad,” who even gets his own backstory romance, and it’s with Vance’s guardian Elias, where both characters are bisexual. I am also here for all her dads’ puns and witty remarks and could read a book just about him. Other characters we were introduced to include two of Rosie’s best friends, Quinn who identified as non-binary and was running for Homecoming, and Annie. I have to give props to Poston, who writes the characters well and natural — not like they are outsiders or need to be explained. The characters go through their own drama and just happen to be queer; it was presented as normal, as it should be.
I love modern retellings of classic fairy tales, calling them out for their outdated views and updating them, which is why I am here for this series by Ashley Poston. It was nice to see diverse characters and have the chapters alternate between Rosie and Vance’s point of view. I will admit that after reading this book, I did have to go rewatch The Cinderella Story with Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray, because this book gave me the same trope feels like that film.
If you would like to know more about Ashley Poston and her books, you can find more information on her website and social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Bookish and the Beast, which is now available.