Beautiful: Audiobook Review

Written by Juliet Marillier
Narrated by Gemma Dawson
Fantasy, Retelling, Fairy Tale
Published May 30th 2019
7 Hours 18 Minutes
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Hulde is a queen's daughter and lives in a palace. But her life is lonely. Growing up atop the glass mountain, she knows only her violent and autocratic mother and a household of terrified servants.

Then a white bear named Rune comes to visit, and Hulde learns what kindness is.

But the queen has a plan for Hulde. When she turns 16, she will wed the most beautiful man in all the world. Hulde has never met her intended husband, and her mother refuses to explain the arrangement. Hulde becomes desperate to find out more, and seeks the help of a magic mirror. Perhaps someone is coming to her rescue.

On her wedding day, Hulde's existence is turned upside down. For the first time she leaves the glass mountain behind, setting out to be as brave as the heroines in her beloved storybook.

The journey will test Hulde to the limit. Can she overcome her fears and take control of her own life?
Hulde aches with loneliness, a kindness her mother considers her undeserving, isolated in their castle upon the mountain. Hulde will be forced to marry on her sixteenth birthday to a man who has been cursed. Her only companion is Rune, a bear that visits each third summer, teaching Hulde kindness through their friendship. Her only solace from her wicked mother, the Troll Queen. Hulde is the Troll Princess and while her human servants fear those who are different, Hulde is a gentle, intelligent young woman who, despite outwardly appearances, is the epitome of beautiful.

Under her oppressive rein, her mother instilled in Hulde the importance of beauty, obsessed with humans while ensuring her daughter remained obedient. On her sixteenth birthday and as Hulde learns of her mother's deception, she decides that she no longer cares for her stories of adventure and heroic young women, she wants to become one and journeys alone to find her place in the world and new friends to discover.

Inspired by the Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, the original story follows the journey of an impoverished young woman and her family, who are invited to live in a castle by a white bear in exchange for the devotion of their youngest daughter but her beloved is cursed and will now unwillingly marry the princess, the daughter of his miserable stepmother. Beautiful is the narrative of the princess who will marry the cursed white bear on her sixteenth birthday, except Hulde is determined to forge her own path into the world.

Hulde is a quiet and unassuming young woman, a princess and daughter of the Troll Queen who is consumed with human beauty. Hulde's journey is an extraordinary and lyrically beautiful narrative, following the journey of a courageous and captivating young woman on a journey to discover the world. Simply exquisite. 


  1. This sounds really fascinating! I'm glad you enjoyed it, Kelly! ♥

  2. I read the YA book East last year and it was based on this fairytale - I hadn't heard of it before! I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one. It sounds beautifully written, and I'm sure I'd really love Hulde.



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