‘As Old as Time’ from Disney Books Explores the Curse Beyond Beast’s Castle

As Old as Time, written by Liz Braswell and based on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, is one of many books in the bestselling Disney Twisted Tale series. The series from Disney Books ‘twists’ well-known Disney films, giving readers an all-new adventure based on classic characters they know and love.

I am a big fan of Liz Braswell’s writing. If my fandom could be measured in books, it might fill Belle’s library. 

Despite the underwhelming tagline (more on this later), As Old as Time does not just introduce us to Belle’s mother. It expands Belle and the Beast’s relationship, reunites us with Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts, and gives the castle and Belle’s ‘little town’ a lively, though turbulent, history.

I enjoyed learning about Belle’s mother, Rosalind. Braswell masterfully molds the reason for Rosalind’s absence from Belle’s life into a story of her own making. Belle and the Beast work together to uncover the mystery surrounding Rosalind’s perplexing disappearance. Their detective-like efforts also expose Monsieur D’Arque’s thrilling backstory beyond mere mentions of the asylum and his scheming with Gaston and LeFou as seen in the film.

Braswell breathes new life into the tale as old as time and it shines. Readers’ introduction to Rosalind in the first chapter is both fascinating and disconcerting. Maurice’s courting of Rosalind is charming. However, the fascination and charm in the beginning of the book is interrupted by the back-and-forth chapter structure between Rosalind’s story and events largely captured in the Disney film. I found myself wanting to skip over some of the ‘film’ chapters so that I could carry on with the twisted tale. 

On the other hand, Braswell’s account of Belle seeing the enchanted rose for the first time – this scene appears in the film – leaps off the page. You can feel the despair in the West Wing. The rose is untouched by the surrounding destruction and yet it is the key to the Prince’s imminent demise in this story. (That’s right, the last petal falls well before there is any love in the air between Beauty and the Beast!)   

So, I really liked this book but I almost did not bother reading it. Why? Probably that tagline… 

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

This is the tagline for As Old as Time. Does it excite you? It did not excite me. 

We do not know anything about Belle’s mother based on the film, and while that gives the author a great deal of creative freedom with which to whisk readers away, this line did not feel ‘twisted’ enough.

Compare it to Braswell’s Straight on Till Morning tag: What if Wendy first traveled to Never Land with Captain Hook? 

WHAT?! Our sweet Wendy Darling sailing away with that ‘codfish’ villain instead of with Peter?! I better see what this is all about… 

Or Elizabeth Lim’s So This is Love tag: What if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper? 

Well! That would change the entire fairytale ending! But how?!…

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast? Ah, Belle’s mother was the enchantress. We know she was out of the picture after that. Full stop.

This was my first thought. Far less intrigue than asking “what” or “how” something happens that might change the fabric of the story. 

To me, a more enticing tagline might have been: What if the last rose petal fell before the Beast had earned Belle’s love? 

No way! Was the Prince doomed to remain a Beast for all time?!… 

Surely you get my belabored point.

Despite this nitpicky reservation, As Old as Time is a worthwhile read for Disney fans and lovers of a good twist. Like most Braswell books, it is also filled with great lines and memorable character exchanges. “This was the eighteenth century. The age of reason.” / “This isn’t the dark ages!”  “Every age has its darkness.” Such lines, accompanied by Gaston being comically chiseled to perfection – in body, personality and cringe worthiness – means your nose will be stuck in this book.

Below is the list of books in the Twisted Tale series so far. Take a peek at our review and interviews so far – and check back for more to come!

  1. A Whole New World – (Review coming soon!)
  2. Once Upon a Dream – (Review coming soon!)
  3. As Old as Time – you just read it!
  4. Reflection – (Review coming soon!) 
  5. Part of Your World – (Review coming soon!)
  6. Mirror, Mirror – Read our review!
  7. Conceal, Don’t Feel – Check out our interview with author Jen Calonita!
  8. Straight on Till Morning – Check out our interview with author Liz Braswell!
  9. So This is Love – Check out our interview with author Elizabeth Lim!