Bookish and the Beast, by Ashley Poston

The saddest part of this pandemic, aside from the whole physical distancing thing, is missing out on comic conventions.  It’s no secret by now how much I love them, and for what reasons, so I shan’t reiterate.  But what I haven’t iterated enough at this point is how much I freaking love Ashley Poston’s work!  And in a time when I am starved for a comic convention experience, she brings out another delightful comic-con adventure with Bookish and the Beast.

Let me reiterate: a comic-con adventure that is based on Beauty and the Beast! Two of my favorite things in the world combined in one book!  Needless to say, there was much fangasming when I found this book by surprise at the bookstore.

Bookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con, #3) by Ashley Poston

Rosie Thorne’s mother is gone, and she has no idea how to move on.  She still has her oddball librarian father and her two best friends, but she cannot forget the person who taught her the wonder of reading.  One night, she makes the accidental acquaintance of Vance Reigns, a cast member of the Starfield movie series, when she inadvertently destroys a valuable book from his library—although Vance does not like reading.  Rosie works to reorganize the vast library in Vance’s estate to buy back the book, with a reluctant Vance at her side.

An Ashley Poston book is almost impossible to put down.  As a matter of fact, I found this book at my local Barnes and Noble, took it home, and finished it in one sitting.  Because, again, a book that pays homage to the wonder and delight of fandom, all within a Beauty and the Beast tale…how can I possibly resist something so awesome?

Part of the fun of this book was how many Beauty and the Beast references are sprinkled across the dialogue.  Rosie jokes about her friend wanting something from the great wide somewhere, and even cracks a joke to Vance about a book containing magic spells, daring sword fights, and a prince in disguise.  Sound familiar?  The Disney fangirl in me soaked up every single one!  Even the library itself feels like an homage to the Disney film—albeit full of nothing but sci-fi and fantasy novels, but still.

While this particular entry does not actually take place at a comic convention, it pays homage to something that all comic-con goers love: stories.  Rosie explains a few times why she loves stories and reading so much, and Vance himself partakes sometimes too with his love of dating simulation apps.  Books/stories are the objects of affection here, and it is just as fun to dote on them as the other Once Upon a Con books do on comic conventions.

This might sound twisted, but I LOVE that this beauty-meets-beast tale had a Gaston (though not literally named Gaston) in it.  I’ve explained my love for this trope in other entries, but once again, it is oddly cathartic seeing such a douchebag get his comeuppance.  And it doesn’t quite come from the place I expected it to, which added the cherry on top.

Any readers who have watched Howl’s Moving Castle will also get a treat with this book.  One whole comedic scene here pays homage to one of that film’s more hilarious, melodramatic moments; if you’ve seen the movie, you probably already know which one I’m talking about.  When I realized what was happening in this scene, I had a hard time ceasing to laugh.

Other characters from the series make their expected appearances, so it’s fun to once again watch this series’ cast expand some more.  Rosie and Vance is a cute couple, and it’s a testament to Ashley Poston’s skill that, with each couple she writes, that couple becomes my favorite.  I mean, we’re talking about a pair based on Beauty and the Beast: the bookish nerd finding love with a reclusive loner!  They’re both so relatable—at least, to a bookish introvert like myself.

I don’t know what the heck Ashley Poston is going to top this series off with next, but I already cannot wait!  Until we can flock to our favorite comic conventions and don our long-worked-on cosplays, the Once Upon a Con series is going to remain my comfort book fare.

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