Author: Robin McKinley
Age Group: 12+
Synopsis: A retelling of Beauty and the Beast that is even more magical and charming than the original story.
The Low Down: I received Beauty in my early teens and reread it every so often. My sister bought me a new version last year after the binding on mine broke into so many pieces that even scotch tape looked hopeless. I find it everything a fairy tale should be and maybe I like it more than the other versions of Beauty and the Beast, perhaps because of my optimism.
There’s a few differences in this retelling. Beauty’s real name in the book is Honour and her nickname came about by a funny family story. There’s no Gaston or arrogant nitwit trying to win her hand and her family, including her sisters, love her. I’ve always had trouble fathoming how two siblings, like Beauty’s in the original tale, can be so selfish and heartless when faced with the severing of a sisterly bond. This book doesn’t touch on that. It focuses on how a family bonds together in the face of adversity and survives, if not succeeds. Then there’s the library. Oh the library. Maybe this is the true reason I love this book so. I shan’t give it away but the library is beyond epic.
The characters are thoughtful and good. Even the Beast doesn’t throw tantrums but is genuinely concerned with Beauty’s welfare. There’s no true antagonist throughout the book and the characters are optimistically empathetic of those around them. If anything it’s a bit of a emotional utopia. I wouldn’t say the characters are real by any means. They’re all too good, too thoughtful, too caring but in the end a fairy tale isn’t about real people. It’s a story that provides an example or a moral that we might to live up to. And in that case Beauty provides a haven to gracious, altruistic characters and to readers who need a bit more optimism and hope.
- Get a hard cover copy to prevent the binding from being worn out due to rereading.
I need more!
Robin McKinley also The Hero and the Crown, Blue Word, The Door in the Hedge, and The Outlaws of Sherwood. I regret to say that I haven’t read any of them but will review them when I do.
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