Book Review: “Beauty”

“Beauty (Folktales #1)” by Robin McKinley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Fairy Tale Retelling

Source: Library

Other books in the Folktales series

Summary from Goodeads:

A strange imprisonment…

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.

When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

reviewI’ve never read the original fairy tale but I have seen the Disney movie. I liked how the book was similar to that (I have no idea if those elements were in the fairy tale as well). Everyone in the castle is enchanted with Beast. He was a wonderful library which Beauty, as a big reader, appropriates. Those subtle similarities were greatly appreciated.

I liked that Beauty wasn’t who you thought she’d be. She’s not beautiful and she’s not graceful. It kind of reminded me of Golden by Cameron Dokey by challenging your idea of the story. Beauty is a number of other things though: smart, a reader, courageous, a horse rider, etc.  Beauty does eventually grow into herself and her beauty though. All of that makes for a well rounded ‘princess’.

I loved that there was a good focus on Beauty and her family from ‘before’. It gets you invested with her family. You see how much they love each other and that she had a good upbringing. It also helps you understand why Beauty made the decision to go to the castle. She was doing what she could for her family.

Beauty and the Beast can be a hard tale to tell (and adapt) because of the weirdness going on. Why would someone fall in love with the person that took them away from their family and life? I could almost understand why with this adaption. Beast is patient and kind. He is always respectful of Beauty and her space. I liked all that.

The bottom line? Fairly traditional retelling with a few good twists and additions.

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18 thoughts on “Book Review: “Beauty”

  1. How funny! I’m actually in the middle of Beauty right now. I got on a kick with fairy tale retellings recently, and I’ve also got Zel by Donna Jo Napoli and Entwined by Heather Dixon at home too. I am finding myself a little unmotivated to get through Beauty because it is such a traditional retelling and I’ve got so many more things on my book pile that are more exciting. But I still think it’s a lovely version of the story, and I will finish it up sooner or later 🙂

    • Zel is a good choice! I can see how reading Beauty might get a bit boring. I actually listened to it and that worked out pretty well. I liked the narrator pretty well. If you’re into audiobooks, you might try finishing Beauty on audio.

  2. It’s hard to read some of these retold stories…My daughter got into new versions of old fairy tales, she read Cinder and loved it! Right now she is sticking on the sci-fi side of things, reading abook with some mythology in it, not fairy tales but stories of that she seems to like. She is reading The Red Sun by Alane Adams, alaneadams.com. She seems to be a fantastic writer, there are some good ones out there.

  3. My mother complains nonstop that the Disney movie stole all its ideas from Robin McKinley’s version of Beauty. I don’t fully agree with her, but there are definitely things that are QUITE similar between the two versions– and Robin McKinley’s one came first! I read Beauty when I was little and saw the Disney Beauty & the Beast when I was little, so I love them both with impartial devotion. :p

  4. I loved Cameron Dokey and Robin McKinley’s fairy tale retellings in high school and I’d love to re-read them. Since starting blogging though, I’ve found I always have such an overwhelming TBR pile, it’s hard to take the time to go back and visit old favorites.

  5. Pingback: Monthly Round Up: September 2014 | The Cheap Reader

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