The Lady and the Beast by Hongseul and maginot is more than an isekai romance fantasy and moves beyond a retelling of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. It’s an unexpected gem to check out.
I’ve received free access to The Lady and the Beast in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Astina, the daughter of a count, exceeds the education expected of her from a young age. A swordmaster and a devoted older sister to Kanna, Astina empowers herself and others and doesn’t let anyone, including her teachers, belittle her. When a letter intended for Kanna arrives, stating that she must wed Archduke Atalenta – also known as Terroid the Beast – and bear an heir to continue the Atalenta bloodline, Astina decides to take her place. At the Archduke’s Archduchy, Astina encounters dishonest vassals and schemes against her. She would have to prove her worth as the Archduchess and find a way to break the Archduke’s curse.
The Lady and the Beast at first follows several variants of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. A woman stepping in to marry the Beast to protect her family. A man (usually) cursed in the form of a monster. The similarities end there, though. The story unfolds into one about forgiveness. Characters ironing the wrinkles in their relationships. Characters dispersing misjudgments and shattering assumptions through communication. This webtoon excels in character dynamics and maintains suspense without succumbing to melodrama.
The webtoon introduces Astina’s world through the political climate and genocidal acts during her previous life as Martina. The first four episodes explain how Martina rose to power as Empress. While this may seem like an overload of information that the creators could have shown pieces of Astina’s past life throughout the present story, the prologue actually builds up her internal conflict surrounding her identity in her new life. Spoilers withheld, but connections between her two lives manifest throughout this webtoon.
Whatever obstacle or dilemma comes her way, Astina uses her wits. Not even dealing with a literal beast would stop her from protecting her family. She refuses to allow anyone to demean her for her gender or social standing. However, while Astina becomes influential and admired as the Archduchess, she’s not without her flaws. She acknowledges the violence she’d inflicted on others in her previous life, including burning books that didn’t suit the ideals the Empire valued then. And although Astina was considered gifted at a younger age, she is prone to misunderstandings. She expects to divorce her husband after she bears an heir. Terroid, however, develops romantic feelings for her. Astina, at first, doesn’t fully realize this because she sees their marriage as a convenient transaction.
Another highlight of this webtoon is how it smoothly transitions to some of the side characters as well, including a scheming princess and a marchioness who struggles with how she presents her gender to society. These side stories add to the themes of forgiveness and evading assumptions due to gender and or social class.
A highly recommended gem, The Lady and the Beast exceeds my expectations of most romance fantasy webtoons.
The Lady and the Beast by Hongseul and maginot is available on Tapas. You can read the first five episodes for free.
For more great webcomic recommendations, check out our Wednesday Webcomics archives!
Author: Bradda M.
Bradda M. currently lives in Virginia. He teaches ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) at a public school and spends his free time reading and watching movies each night with his partner. For The Geekiary, he writes about webcomics and SFF media.
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