Guest Blog by Sonni de Soto
I am a broken person.
Fact is: you get to a certain age and everyone ends up at least a little damaged. That’s life. Your heart gets broken. The people you depend on disappoint you. Your dreams get lost or delayed. You get hurt and you end up hurting people you never meant to. Life so often grinds away at people, but living and growing is learning how to deal with and heal that damage, so you don’t end up harming yourself or others with those broken bits of yourself.
When I saw the submission call for Mothers of Enchantment: New Tales of Fairy Godmothers, I knew I wanted to write a twist on Beauty and the Beast because so little is ever said about the woman who placed that particularly cruel spell. I mean, she took this already bad-tempered, ill-mannered, unlikeable human and cursed him to look like a literal monster. Then she told him the only way he could fix it was to make someone fall in love with him. It’s a harshly impossible task. Why would someone do that? What was she thinking? Fairy godmothers, by archetypal nature, are story guides, characters meant to help heroes grow and learn. So how is this poor, cursed prince — not to mention the story — expected to make her impossible demand possible?
Most versions do this by introducing Beauty, this impossibly perfect being. She’s usually not just beautiful on the outside, but so inhumanly filled with patience, compassion, and forgiveness that she somehow transforms this uncouth beast from the inside out. Which is great for the beast, but seems like a lot to ask of a single person. It demands that she constantly sacrifice for and give to and always see the best in this character who really hasn’t done much to deserve it. Her love alone is expected to cure him. Except it’s incredibly unfair to expect our romantic partners to fix us. They are not our therapists or our saviors. They’re regular, normal, broken people who are just looking to find love and be loved in return.
Honestly, a story’s hero should learn to fix themselves. They should want to become better, not for the sake of someone else, but for their own. Because, if your happily-ever-after can only be found through someone else… That just sounds like the making of a whole new curse. Because, what happens if that person leaves? Or if they never show up in the first place?
In my story “Face in the Mirror,” my beast’s Beauty never shows up, so how — without the help of a miraculously transformative love interest — can my beast ever hope to break the spell? And what will the fairy godmother who cast the curse do when she sees her spell, that was meant to help transform my beastly prince into a better person, go wasted?
My story looks at this familiar tale, told countless times, and takes a self-improvement spin on it. It asks what makes a person truly monstrous. How does a person end up acting so much like a beast that they become one? And, if you could take the parts of yourself and your past that feel cursed and change them into qualities that you can love, flaws and all, would that be enough to break the most impossible of spells?
Sonni de Soto is a queer author of color, who believes that happily-ever-after comes in many different forms. de Soto has had the privilege of publishing stories with Cleis Press, Speculatively Queer, and many others. To find more from her, please visit patreon.com/sonnidesoto and instagram.com/sonnidesoto_allages.
World Weaver Press
Publishing fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction.