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Belle: A Retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" (Once Upon a Time #14)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,604 Ratings  ·  518 Reviews
Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwoo
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 25th 2008 by Simon Pulse (first published January 1st 2008)
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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineThe Goose Girl by Shannon HaleBeauty by Robin McKinleyThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanFairest by Gail Carson Levine
The Best Fairytales and Retellings
119th out of 1,895 books — 7,628 voters
The Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron DokeyBefore Midnight by Cameron DokeySnow by Tracy LynnMidnight Pearls by Debbie ViguiéViolet Eyes by Debbie Viguié
Once Upon a Time Series
8th out of 21 books — 255 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jan 19, 2009 Karen rated it liked it
*sigh* It was so close, and yet... no. It was good, i guess, but it was clear that Cameron Dokey had read Robin McKinley's "beauty" dozens of times. There is no rose. I liked that. The whole love-tree with a secret inside of it that only belle,the fabulous wood carver, can unlock... this was new and interesting. And, phew, the part in the boat (read it, you'll like that part) was really sweet. But there were so many moments where I just rolled my eyes. Either she had copied and pasted robin mcki ...more
Kiirsi Hellewell
Mar 07, 2011 Kiirsi Hellewell rated it it was ok
I had mixed feelings about this book.

For the first 140 pages, I was getting into the story. I enjoyed the good writing, the descriptions, I even liked all the characters. This was a nice version of "Beauty and the Beast" where Belle still had both her parents and even her sisters are kind and good. Nothing was really happening in the story. We were watching the main character grow up, which was somewhat boring but a little cool since she liked to carve wood and had a magical "gift" to see insid
Oct 09, 2009 Cara rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cara by: Valerie
Shelves: fantasy, fairy-tales
I am totally in "like" with this series. Why do I go all mushy inside every time I read one? I guess I carry way too much estrogen but I'm not ashamed. No way. Part of the reasons fairy tales have been around so long is because they show us something about what the heart can do.

Belle doesn't fit her name. At least she doesn't feel like she does when she is next to her gorgeous sisters. The author doesn't make us feel sorry for Belle in the least, which I thought was odd but good. Though she isn'
Sep 08, 2009 Ash rated it really liked it
I've always loved the story of "Beauty and the Beast". Probably from watching the Disney movie when I was really young(Belle was my favorite Disney princess). So I obviously had some high hopes for it. I can't say that I absouletly loved it, but like any fairy tale lover, the happy ending had me smiling.

Quick Overview: Belle feels like her name is a lie. One that you can see quite plainly when you look at her face. Belle means Beautiful and that is a word that describes her sisters, not her. H
SUMMARY: Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood -- and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn t
Jun 09, 2015 Valerie rated it really liked it
Shelves: retellings, fantasy
Nothing like true love to make a Fairytale story magical. The book doesn't start that way but the beginning is just supposed to lead up to that.

It starts with Belle saying how beauty is not -as some people would have you believe- in the eye of the beholder. Her two older sisters are considered beauties but for different reasons. The oldest is the dark haired mysterious type and the second is blond with the sunshine just bursting out of her. It's good to see the author show that beauty isn't res
Nov 28, 2008 Izlinda rated it really liked it
When I started this book, I smiled at reading the back cover. I believe the Heartwood or a tree similar to its myth featured in another myth in another book of the "Once Upon a Time" series. I don't recall which one it was - a prince carved a flute from it, I believe, while his brother carved a spear or something...

Anyway, back to this book. I decided to pre-order it because I rather liked the books I've read of this series so far, and Beauty and the Beast is one of my liked stories. (Admittedl
Jun 14, 2009 Allison rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya-fantasy, j-fantasy
This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. And by retelling I mean that the father isn't dumb, and the author replaces the stolen rose with an accidentally fallen tree branch.

I feel like this is the book you give to middle school/high school students to teach them about patterns and oppositions in writing. No subtlety.

Also, it has the classic mistake that most MODERN YA authors try to avoid- you know nothing about the prince, and you can't tell that the heroine is in love with him, or vice ve
Jul 21, 2009 K. rated it it was ok
I'm having a little fairy tale phase here. Bear with me.

Not very original, took many pages right out of "Beauty" by Robin McKinley.

Did really like the family theme. Appreciated that the mother was still alive. Loved that they came together in the country like they never had in the city (and knew it, and appreciated it).

The Heartwood tree part was sort of original, but also sort of confusing. The story just wasn't knit together very well. The ending was really pretty lame--the tale of why the
Dec 16, 2010 Lydia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fairytale lovers of all ages
I am finding that there are some things that I really like about Dokey's writing and some things I don't like much at all. This book seems to follow her usual pattern. She takes a long time to set up her main charachter and the majority of the book is more about Belle and her family than anything else. The tradition points of the Beauty and the Beast story don't happen until half way through the book. While this is somewhat annoying I actually enjoy the interesting domestic storyline. I like tha ...more
Kelly R
Jun 11, 2009 Kelly R rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. It wasn't great but it was enjoyable.

The characters were lovable and original. I loved the beginning, I thought it was a lovely start and had just enough background information. It was thoroughly engaging. I like Cameron Dokey's style, I find it humorous and endearing.

It was a bit too much like Robin McKinley's Beauty. There were some parts that I wished were changed up a bit. Dokey has the talent, she has written some very inventive stories. I just wished sh
May 14, 2011 Katie rated it did not like it
Halfway through reading this, I realized I was halfway through the book and had yet to meet the Beast. That in itself wouldn't have been a problem if I had liked Belle herself at all.

However, early on, Dokey sets this up as a tale about Belle being Not As Pretty as her sisters and her Issues With That (god, why the hell are heroines clearly described as beautiful always considered "plain"?). This device was gross to me for a couple of reasons. One, she's described as "plain", but evidence is to
It would be hard for anyone who's ready "Beauty" by Robin McKinley to not compare the two books. In my opinion, "Beauty" was the far better story, though this book was not without its merits. Still, the comparisons are difficult to ignore. In both stories, the "Beauty" character is the plain (or plainer) daughter, with two older sisters who are heart-stoppingly beautiful - or Beautiful, as differentiated in this book. They are daughters of a merchant who loses his money, and so the families are ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Melissa rated it it was ok
M'kay... not very far into this book and already I'm super annoyed with Belle. If she mentions one more time how Beautiful her sisters are and how plain she is... I just might scream.

Update: I finished this book and then kept thinking "I should go finish reading Belle"... only to remember I was done. The first half of this book went on and on. The second half was so rushed! I could understand and feel more for the relationship between the father and daughter than I could between the girl and th
Anne Osterlund
Belle is not Beautiful, as she learns on the day she steps between Celestial Heavens and April Dawn, her two sisters, and disappears. It is a lesson she can’t unlearn. Not as she discovers her gift for finding the heart of the wood she carves, or as her family stumbles into poverty, or as she enters the castle with the gate of two hands stretched out toward one another. But there is another lesson here. And one she MUST learn before it is too late .

My favorite aspect of this book was the way it
Mar 02, 2015 Thenia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A retelling of one of my favorite stories, with a few twists that make it more interesting and an engaging writing style that makes the pages fly by.
I had read a number of interpretations of the fairy tale and this interpretation was good but was a drag at some points.
Jun 14, 2015 Kathleen rated it liked it
So I really enjoy this series, most of the time. Its official name is "Once Upon A Time" but I usually just refer to it as the fairy tale series. It's written by a bunch of authors, but I think that Cameron Dokey is one of the better ones, and she usually delivers. This time... she sort of delivered?

Belle is obviously the Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it starts really well. To begin with, Belle gets along really well with her sisters; there's no more than the average sisterly rivalry, and
Joanne♥~Bookworm Extraordinaire
This is a basic retelling of beauty and the beast.

It basically follows the real fairy tale. One difference I noticed is that Belle's mother is around in this book, whereas I believe in the real fairy tale she's not there. Belle's father is a merchant who owns ships and in the beginning they are rich but misfortune happens and Belle's family has to move to the country. Belle's father stumbles upon the Beast's home and Belle takes his place in the beast's home. The rest is basically the same tale
Jul 27, 2009 Loralee rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Christie, Lauren
Recommended to Loralee by: Emily
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
Emily finished this book and said, "Mom, you MUST read this!" Considering that my 15 year old daughter rarely tells me I must read anything, I picked up the book and began reading.

This book retells the story of Beauty and the Beast from a little different angle. Belle hates her name which means beauty. She does not feel as beautiful as her older sisters and wishes her family would call her by her given name of Annabelle because that would fit her better. She struggles to figure out where she ac
Apr 01, 2009 Nicole rated it it was ok
I am a huge fan of fairy tales retold, and Cameron Dokey is one of the authors I enjoy reading in this series. However, this one fell a little short of my expectations, at least as far as the storyline was concerned. I thought Dokey's approach to the fairy tale was engaging, and Belle's reflections on Beauty, with a capital B, thought-provoking. I also liked that there were no evil, ugly step-family members, or un-step-family members, or other individuals who are there for readers to dislike, as ...more
I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale so I'm always curious about retellings about it. I've read most of the books in the Once Upon a Time series but I felt like they weren't really for me. I don't know why, maybe because they were trying to keep the books short, I felt like that stories weren't fully developed. The same was true for this one.

The beginning reminded me of Robin McKinley's Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast because Be
Feb 24, 2016 Debbie rated it liked it
I am sad to give this book such a low rating, because Beauty and the Beast is my most favorite of all the princess fairy tales, and this was probably one of my absolute favorite retellings. I love this author's writing style (though it is better in small doses...I can't read more than two of her books in a row) and the descriptions and imagery were just enchanting. I enjoyed the main character's commentary on Beauty and loved all the other characters in the book. But there are several reasons th ...more
Eh, I have read other Retellings of Beauty and the Beast that I've enjoyed much better.

This story is similar to the "Belle et la Bete" (the original French story) in that it gives more background to the characters that are there, but Cameron Dokey spends more than half of the book in background and setting up for the venture to the castle of the "monster" than Belle does in the castle with the "monster."

There is a lot more discussion as to what is Beauty vs. beauty in the beginning (that's wha
Hannah Ringler
Jul 11, 2014 Hannah Ringler rated it did not like it
It’s a fairly straightforward retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and that is in and of itself somewhat problematic because the classic retelling of Beauty and the Beast is at this point Robin McKinley’s Beauty (1993), and her other retelling of the story, Rose Daughter (1997), is the classic adaptation of the story. It’s fair to say that a lot of the motifs that are common to all three stories are also common to the fairy tale itself, but… they’re close. Particularly the skills of the other two ...more
May 29, 2011 Laree rated it did not like it
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3/4 of this book. She introduced enough details and differences into the plot to keep me captivated.

However, it's the story of beauty and the beast. In a 200 page book, it took almost 150 pages to ever get to the beast part. That entire portion of the tale is introduced, experiences, and resolved in only 50 pages. It just wasn't fleshed out nearly enough. I think this book needed 100 more pages.
Feb 11, 2016 Megan rated it it was ok
This book had SUCH a great and promising start!!!! Then she went to the home of the beast, and the whole plot just fizzled out like a wet firework. It's so sad, because the ground work the author laid for the plot was impressive. The romance with the beast felt rushed. I didn't feel any chemistry between them. I would have really liked to learn more about the romance that her sister April had. I believed that love story more than the one between Belle and the Beast. This book would have been a r ...more
Lindsay Bragg
Apr 07, 2016 Lindsay Bragg rated it liked it
Belle was an interesting character in this retelling. I liked the way she, as the narrator, articulated things. Dokey retells fairytales by changing one of the most common things about the character. In this case, Belle is not particularly beautiful, which is an interesting take.

Iv'e noticed with all of Dokey's books, but particularly with this one, she spends so much time on the setup and then very little time on the main part of the story. In this case, the book is about 200 pages and Belle ge
Apr 15, 2015 Melody rated it liked it
This book started out so well. It had shadows of Robin McKinley's Beauty with interesting twists of its own. I loved the language, the style, the human insights. But sadly it failed to deliver. I think the "heroine" needed a few years to mature. During the last part of the book she started throwing tantrums. Her emotions were more than she could deal with so she would cry and scream just like a toddler melt-down. She made a big deal about her name but then couldn't decide what she wanted to be c ...more
Mandi Connell
Apr 24, 2014 Mandi Connell rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1-500-pages-yal
Belle is a woodcutter's daughter who feels that she doesn't fit with her name. She doesn't feel beautiful, like her two sisters. One night her father gets lost in the woods and encounters a beast, and pretty much accidentally makes a deal with him that causes Belle to go back into the woods to stay with the beast. Every night the beast asks Belle to marry him, and every night she says no. Later she is allowed to go back to her family, but she realizes that she misses the beasts and discovers tha ...more
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Nov 20, 2014 12:05PM  
¿Por qué no una traducción al Español? 1 2 Oct 22, 2014 01:07PM  
Translation into Spanish, why not? 1 3 Jul 22, 2014 06:37PM  
Am I the only one who wanted more of... (spoilers) 2 22 Sep 05, 2012 05:35PM  
Can't remember the title of this amazing book! Help. 3 23 Feb 02, 2012 03:17PM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Belle 1 2 Jan 27, 2012 11:02AM  
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  • Princess of Glass (Princess, #2)
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Cameron Dokey is an American author living in Seattle, Washington. She has a collection of over 50 old sci-fi and horror films. Cameron was born in the Central Valley of California. Cameron grew up reading classical literature and mythology, perhaps due to her father, Richard, being a teacher of Philosophy, Creative Writing, and Western Literature.

Cameron has one husband and three cats, and is th
More about Cameron Dokey...

Other Books in the Series

Once Upon a Time (1 - 10 of 19 books)
  • The Storyteller's Daughter: A Retelling of the Arabian Nights
  • Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty
  • Snow: A Retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
  • Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid
  • Scarlet Moon: A Retelling of Little Red Riding Hood
  • Sunlight and Shadow: A Retelling of The Magic Flute
  • Spirited
  • The Night Dance : A Retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses
  • Golden
  • Water Song: A Retelling of "The Frog Prince" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)

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“Unhappy memories are persistent. They're specific, and it's the details that refuse to leave us alone. Though a happy memory may stay with you just as long as one that makes you miserable, what you remember softens over time. What you recall is simply that you were happy, not necessarily the individual moments that brought about your joy.

But the memory of something painful does just the opposite. It retains its original shape, all bony fingers and pointy elbows. Every time it returns, you get a quick poke in the eye or jab in the stomach. The memory of being unhappy has the power to hurt us long after the fact. We feel the injury anew each and every time we think of it.”
“Five is for five heartbeats, the length of time it takes to breathe in or out. For that is how quickly a life may change, for better or for ill. The time it takes to make up, or change, your mind.” 16 likes
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