Robin McKinley – Beauty
98. Beauty by Robin McKinley (1978)
Length: 325 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tale
Started: 22 September 2007
Finished: 23 September 2007
Summary: The familiar story of Beauty and the Beast: Beauty, a bookish girl, must stay in an enchanted castle with a Beast in order to save her father’s life, and eventually break the curse that holds the Beast in thrall.
Review: The book cover calls this a “retelling of Beauty and the Beast”, but I think that’s overstating things a bit. Retellings usually add some new element, perspective, or twist; this book really just a “telling”. I was (wrongly) expecting a re-telling that was a little bit darker, a little bit more adult, and was a little disappointed once I realized that the twist wasn’t going to come. Past that misconception, though, this was a very nice version of the Beauty and the Beast story, with mostly clean, elegant, lyrical prose. The tone faltered a bit occasionally, trying to be too modern (particularly in some of the dialogue) in contrast to the more classical fairy-tale world it had set up, but in general this book gives a lushly-described version of the familiar tale. 3 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: I’d say this book is probably best for younger teenagers; it was enjoyable enough but lacking some meat that would have really made it interesting to more mature fans of fairy tales.