- STAR RATING: 4 stars
- PAGE LENGTH: 264 pages
- DATE PUBLISHED: November 18, 2014
- PUBLISHER: Open Road Media Teen
- CONTENT WARNINGS: Confinement, Body shaming, Kidnapping
- IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, Curse of the Wolf King by Tessonja Odette
When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise – to send one daughter to the Beast’s castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairy tale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.
After reading Echo North and being reminded just how much I love the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, I decided to venture into the world looking for more retellings of this classic story. I discovered that not only have I already read quite a few of them, that there are tons and tons out there for me to grab hold of. Beauty was one of the highly recommended ones, so it shot straight to the top of the list.
In this particular version of the story, Beauty is given the nickname as a joke — she is not the most beautiful of her sisters, and is in fact rather plain. She’s more likely to be found in the blacksmith shop helping shoe horses than to be embroidering or painting or whatever it is that noble ladies do with their spare time. I quite liked this version of Beauty — she was down to earth in a way that a lot of other ‘Beauties’ usually aren’t. When her father returned with his “bargain” with the Beast, Beauty didn’t really hesitate to say that she would go. She was expendable in a way that her sisters were not, and well, it wasn’t like she had a lot of other prospects in the small little town they lived in.
I love, love, loved the side characters in this one. Beauty’s sisters loved and adored her for who she was without really wanting to change her. Their father wanted what was best for them, but after he lost his business he was not too proud to accept help. Beauty’s brother-in-law, Gervain, was a champion of men and just one of the nicest characters I’ve read in awhile. Just lovely people all around in this book. And this is all without mentioning the Beast himself.
The Beast is a lonely man who, if I’m recalling this right (it’s been several days since I finished this book), had an ancestor that was cursed. I don’t remember if it was Beast himself or another member of his family who was the first person to be cursed and sentenced to live in the magical house until a girl loved and agreed to marry him. He has been in the house for at least two hundred years by the time that we know him. He is very clearly alone, hates it, and wants company. He seemed soft, and extremely kind to Beauty right from the start. After ‘kidnapping’ Beauty, the Beast sends countless treasures to her family so they are taken care of, and know that she is safe.
Both Beauty and Beast are outcasts inside the story, and together they fit in a way that neither one of them ever expected to. I loved watching them circle around each other, and then finally fall for one another. It is slowly done, and masterfully done. My one problem with this retelling is the ending. Not only is it extremely abrupt, it leaves you feeling as if you’re missing something. I wanted a more rounded ending — maybe some more after they are married, or something similar. Instead, we don’t even get to see them wed. It ends right before the wedding, as the guests arrive. I was disappointed, but since I liked the rest of the novel, I’m still rating this one 4 stars.
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6 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: BEAUTY BY ROBIN MCKINLEY”
I can’t resist a good beauty and the beast retelling, thank you for bringing this to my attention!
Have you read CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge? I read it five years ago so why I liked it is a little hazy and might not age well..
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I’m a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast retelling and this one sounds really interesting! I might have to pick it up in the future and see if I like it as much as I think I would 🙂
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I love Beauty and the Beast, so this looks good to me.
This sounds so good! (Except for the abrupt ending). I’m in the mood for a B&B retelling, I’ll have to keep this in mind😁
Great review, another one to add to my TBR
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