Beauty by Robin Mckinley

Summary from Goodreads:

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?"
Robin McKinley's beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast

I adore fairy tales and retellings of them are no exception. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales, if not the most. So, I have been wanting Robin Mckinley's Beauty for the longest time and thanks to Chachic of Chachic's Book Nook for sending me this book and allowing me to finally cross it off my list. And it's no surprise that I loved it!

This is my first Beauty and the Beast retelling, save for the Disney's adaptation. In this one, there are only a few changes from the original fairy tale as from what I remember it to be. Beauty for one is not, as her name suggest, beautiful. She is an ordinary plain looking girl. Her sisters, Hope and Grace, are kind and loving and are the ones who possess physical attractiveness. (In a way, her relationship with her sisters sort of reminded me of Jane and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, with Hope and Grace being similar to Jane's disposition as Belle is to Elizabeth. As well as the idea of marriage as being a woman's future made me think of the said Jane Austen novel.)

I like that in this retelling, it was not just Beauty's life in the castle with the Beast that was given center stage but her family's life as well as the community (town) where they belong proves to be of much importance in the story as well. Their struggle of losing their old prosperous life and moving into a new town, not knowing anyone. Grace who struggled to deal with her heartbreak over her fiance Robbie. Hope having twins with her husband Ger, a lovely man who helped them get a new start in life along with his aunt Melinda. Reading about Beauty's life with her family was just as interesting as her time in the enchanted castle.

I like the character of Beauty. She was made more real and genuine to me than say Belle in Disney's adaptation of the tale. I got to know her more personally through her choice of literature (loves Greek plays and myths, but is not quite a mystery novel type of girl as she doesn't get Sherlock Holmes. You shall know a person by the books he reads, I always say. :)  She is not the demure and poised princess but someone who can chop wood and ride a stallion. She is both tough and bookish. An unlikely but lovely combination. I also love how Robin Mckinley crafted her voice in which the story is told. There are parts in the story where you can see her sharp wit and sense of humor. From the moment she asked her father, at such a young age, what her original name meant, and from the moment she said that she'd rather be "Beauty." I knew she would have a devilish sense of humor and I would definitely like her. 

Robin Mckinley's writing style is lovely. It's like being tucked in bed at night with a story. I am very much eager to read her other works. And this will go on my List of Favorite Retellings! And if you have read any other good Beauty and the Beast retelling do let me know.

Beauty is a recipient of the 1998 Phoenix Award Honor Book.

This is my 14th entry for the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.


  1. This is interesting. I think I would like this story more than Beastly by Alex Flinn. Beastly's story came out as a bit childish and immature for me.

    It's fun to read fairy tale retellings. You could try Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon. Although it's targeted for a bit mature readers.

    1. I have seen the movie adaptation of Beastly. It was just okay for me. Alex Flinn's was more of a modern take on a tale. Robin Mckinley's on the other hand, stuck mostly to the original version, with only little variation. I think you'd like this one Rhin. :)

      Oh yeah, I read your review on Mermaid and added it to my list. It sounds really interesting especially that I haven't read anything on mermaids before and that grew up watching Disney's Ariel. :)

  2. Robin McKinley is one of my all-time favorite authors. She's an amazing writer and has such a neat take on fairy tales. :)

    1. Hi Grace! This definitely won't be my last Robin Mckinley read. I found out she still has another Beauty and the Beast retelling called Rose Daughter. I haven't read it yet but I find it amazing that she could retell the same story twice. :)

  3. I preferred Rose Daughter over Beauty because it's much more layered and, well, metaphysical. It makes the reader *think* a lot more than Beauty, though Beauty is probably the better straight retelling.

    Donna Jo Napoli's Beast is told from the viewpoint of the Beast. It's an interesting read too, because it starts out as a Middle Eastern tale a la Arabian Nights.

    1. Hi Kim! It's interesting that Robin Mckinley wrote two retellings of the same fairy tale so I am definitely curious about Rose Daughter.

      Knowing what the Beast's thoughts about his predicament would be cool, that and the Middle Eastern touch. :)


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