"A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have say his hair is wild and nails are sharp--like a beast's! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?"
The book begins with the Beast recounting the life he lived before the curse: he was once the Prince of the estate who spent his time hunting and living in extravagance with his friend Gaston. He was to be wed to a woman named Circe, until he learned from Gaston that she was actually a farmer, so he coldly rejected her. One night, Circe returned disguised as a beggar and asked for the Prince to forgive her, but once again the Prince callously refused her. Angered by his ignorance, Circe and her witch-like sisters place a curse on him that will slowly turn him into something inhuman and those around him to share his burden unless he can learn to love and be loved in return, and give him a rose and a mirror as a reminder of the spell.
While nothing seems to have transfigured or changed, over the next few months the Prince begins to slowly age in appearance while becoming more sinister-looking. When his paranoia starts to fester, he eventually chooses to marry the scatterbrained Princess Tulip Morningstar. However, strange episodes begin taking place in the castle, such as the staff beginning to disappear and statues appearing out of nowhere, and soon the Prince becomes so exasperated that he forces Tulip out of the castle with Gaston to escort her away. However after nearly attacking Gaston while out on a hunt, the Prince shuts himself out from the rest of the world. As the months pass by, the Prince's transformation to the Beast completes, with memories of his former life fading from not only his, but from Gaston's and the rest of the court.
When all seems lost, Belle arrives to the castle trading in her life for her father's. Circe's sisters decide to send wolves to kill Belle and ruin the Beast's chances of breaking the spell; however, the Beast's rescue of her only encourages the inception of their romance. As the Beast begins to fall in love with her, the three sisters decide to interfere by having Belle return to her father and leading Gaston into killing the Beast to have Belle as his own. When the fight with Beast commences, Gaston is overpowered by him, so the sisters enchant the Beast to spare Gaston so Gaston can stab him, but this ends with Gaston's fall. As Belle comes to the dying Beast and admits her love, Circe witnesses the touching moment and decides to lift the curse and bring the Beast back to life so he can be with Belle. At the end of the novel, Belle and the Prince live happily ever after with Circe silently watching them through the mirror.
- Lucinda, Ruby, and Martha
- Tulip Morningstar
- Mrs. Potts
- While the book is considered part of Valentino's Disney Villains series, the Beast himself is not actually the villain of his respective film. However, Valentino did accentuate the Beast's more unattractive qualities of brutality and egotism in the novel, which in turn has him fit in with the overall villainous personalities of the series main characters.