The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

(Pub: Random House, 2015)

**I was provided with an ARC copy of this in exhange for an honest review**

This was the first Kate Forsyth novel that I’ve read (I should probably hang my head in shame at that) and I had high hopes for The Beast’s Garden.  Perhaps it was going into the novel with such high hopes that ultimately lead to my disappointment with it.  While there was much I enjoyed, I wasn’t completely engaged by it. 
I’m someone who loves fairy tale re-tellings – so why didn’t I fall head over heels for this? 
The relationship development between the Leo and Ava is limited.  They almost fall in love instantly – not quiet but almost.  Ava is young, just finishing school, when she meets Leo. She is courageous and innocent.  However, there were odd little phrases used to describe her feelings for him that jarred with me as being too puerile. They marry out of necessity, though the mutual attraction is there.  Once they were married, it seemed the relationship development within the novel took a back seat to the rest of the story.
I sometimes felt the novel was trying to do too much in one book and perhaps this is why the relationship aspect of the story became secondary to the other plot arcs.  However, those arcs are great and the secondary characters are wonderful – I loved them.  Not all Forsyth’s Germans are evil – many do what they can to work against the Nazi regime.  Forsyth’s research is excellent and she interweaves heart rending stories covering the variety of atrocities committed by the Nazi’s.
The writing is of course excellent and there is wonderful use of musical imagery in Ava’s POV to describe events around her.
However, it wasn’t until the end of the novel, during Ava’s rescue of Leo, where the writing actually got me turning the pages rapidly – so much so that I didn’t care about the feasibility of the rescue.
Was it a good read – yes?  Could it have been more – yes?
3 Stars