I'm sure part of my gleeful urge to give this five-star rating stems from the fact that "Beauty and the Beast" has always been my favourite fairy taleI'm sure part of my gleeful urge to give this five-star rating stems from the fact that "Beauty and the Beast" has always been my favourite fairy tale. I love seeing it redone in modern settings, redone in post-modern settings, and even retold in a time period akin to that in which it was first penned and recorded for posterity.
This novel brings us the story in the first person POV, past tense, but with a current approach to language. I checked the credits and discovered it was first published in 1978 and was surprised at how pertinent all of it still seemed – most fantasy writers working today would probably kill to have produced something as simple, innocent, and ultimately pure as this novel.
It doesn't take the Beauty and the Beast idea and work it into anything unfeasible, and in fact, it sticks very close to the original French version of the tale (Perrault) and the later adaptations. There is nothing strictly unfamiliar here, but instead it's the joy of feeling firsthand the experiences of this character thrust into many uncomfortable situations. McKinley conveys all this with great clarity, and her descriptions are intense and honest and fruitful: you build places and scenes in your mind easily without being bogged down by any excess prose or purely affluent details. You KNOW this story, but even as you read it, you are still given to feel awkwardness, suspense, and joy.
I'll probably read this novel again soon. It was short and sweet and as close to perfect as these things come. If anyone holds "predictability" against it, please see the cover, whereupon it clearly states this is "A retelling of the Story of BEAUTY & THE BEAST." After that, there are no surprises, other than the constant pleasant delight of the author's handling of the subject matter, exploration and detail that the initial idea never develops (being that it's a folk tale, that's no problem, and that's why we like to read and write these things again and again!); in any case, those who are fans of the story itself will love it, probably unconditionally.
Critically – not much to say. A few misprinted typographical things in the edition I have, and knowing now that it was probably written and published at least thirty years ago, you can derive what you want to from that... author's age, life experience, whatever... none of that really factors. The story simply feels genuine, and I find nothing to contest in it. It is, after all, a fairy tale – unlikely beauty found among the thorns. Let's just go with it. ...more
I found this edition of The Gunslinger in a Salvation Army thrift store, and, being young and a fan of King's The Eyes of the Dragon, picked it up onI found this edition of The Gunslinger in a Salvation Army thrift store, and, being young and a fan of King's The Eyes of the Dragon, picked it up on a whim. What's 99 cents in the quest for a good read, right? Anyhow, it stands to reason that the first time I read this book I was far too young to appreciate the story. You have to be more than twelve or thirteen to properly experience and assimilate the ideas it presents. That said, this one gets filed on my short shelf of modern/contemporary classics. It's also a genre bender, possessing characteristics of both fantasy and science fiction, and to top it all off, it's been rendered in the strongest literary voice I've ever associated with Stephen King (several scenes and uses of language reminded me intensely of Clive Barker in the era of The Great and Secret Show and Everville). Found a few small but non-detracting typos in this edition, but illustrations by Michael Whelan add so much that I cannot stoop to nitpicking. I'll say it just once: superb, and coming from a guy who would never ordinarily consider himself a Stephen King fan by any stretch of the imagination, that should tell you almost as much as the five stars. ...more
Unrivalled childhood favourite. Reading at a tender age, it tends to leave quite an impression; fifteen years later it's still good. Unsure if it woulUnrivalled childhood favourite. Reading at a tender age, it tends to leave quite an impression; fifteen years later it's still good. Unsure if it would have the same tender appeal for adults who are first-timers and who don't have a childhood connexion with the novel. ...more