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From Newbery Medal–winning author Robin McKinley, this beloved story illuminates an unlikely love story—Beauty and the Beast. 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 appearance, she can perhaps make up for in courage. When her father comes home with a 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 travel to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father insists that he will not let her go, but she responds, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?” Newbery Medalist Robin McKinley’s beloved and acclaimed novel has been delighting readers for more than forty years. ALA Booklist called Beauty “A captivating novel.” “A reader feels as though it’s all unfolding for the very first time.”— The Guardian An ALA Notable Book for Children A Best Book for Young Adults

325 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published October 25, 1978

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About the author

Robin McKinley

40 books6,773 followers
Born in her mother's hometown of Warren, Ohio, Robin McKinley grew up an only child with a father in the United States Navy. She moved around frequently as a child and read copiously; she credits this background with the inspiration for her stories.

Her passion for reading was one of the most constant things in her childhood, so she began to remember events, places, and time periods by what books she read where. For example, she read Andrew Lang's Blue Fairy Book for the first time in California; The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time in New York; The Lord of the Rings for the first time in Japan; The Once and Future King for the first time in Maine. She still uses books to keep track of her life.

McKinley attended Gould Academy, a preparatory school in Bethel, Maine, and Dickinson College in 1970-1972. In 1975, she was graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College. In 1978, her first novel, Beauty, was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to, and she began her writing career, at age 26. At the time she was living in Brunswick, Maine. Since then she has lived in Boston, on a horse farm in Eastern Massachusetts, in New York City, in Blue Hill, Maine, and now in Hampshire, England, with her husband Peter Dickinson (also a writer, and with whom she co-wrote Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits in 2001) and two lurchers (crossbred sighthounds).

Over the years she has worked as an editor and transcriber (1972-73), research assistant (1976-77), bookstore clerk (1978), teacher and counselor (1978-79), editorial assistant (1979-81), barn manager (1981-82), free-lance editor (1982-85), and full-time writer. Other than writing and reading books, she divides her time mainly between walking her "hellhounds," gardening, cooking, playing the piano, homeopathy, change ringing, and keeping her blog.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,676 reviews
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
August 2, 2020

This review may contain spoilers.

Beauty is the youngest of three sisters. Their mother has passed on and now they live with their father. Beauty is an introvert and prefers reading books. She has very low self-esteem, dislikes her body, and feels that she doesn’t measure up to her sisters’ attractiveness. While she’s quite clever, she wishes she could also be beautiful and have more to offer like her sisters Hope and Grace who are both beautiful and kind.

After their father loses all the family income, they're forced to move to a new place near a mysterious woods. Ger, Hope's soon-to-be husband, will be a smith there and help to support their family. After some time, news comes regarding one of their father’s lost ships. Their father plans a journey to discover what’s left of it, but there are stories of the woods and Ger has told the tales about how it's unsafe.

‘The story is the woods haunted. No, not haunted: enchanted. The stream flows out of the forest, as you see, so likely it’s enchanted to, if anything is. The first smith — well, tales vary. Perhaps he was a wizard. He was a good smith, but he disappeared one day. He’s the one built the house — said he liked the forest, and a forge needs a stream close by, and most of the town gets its water by well. The next smith — the one that left two years ago — dug the well we’ve got now, to prevent the waters enchanting him; but he didn’t like the noises the forest made after dark. Well, forests do make odd noises after dark. Anyway, he left. And they’ve had some trouble finding someone else. That’s how we got this place so cheaply: It’s very good for what we had to spend.’

When their father returns, he brings back a magic rose along with a story to go with it. It is said that he must return one of his daughters to a Beast’s castle or he will meet his death.

I thought the writing in this book was exquisite, in fact, it was the writing that pulled me in. It was just like reading a fairy tale as a child. The story itself stays fairly true to the original with only a few changes so, it’s quite predictable at times, which was fine. It’s rather slow the first half, and the story revolves around Beauty and her family mainly with how they’re getting along in their new place of living. Despite the slowness, I relished these parts because this family truly loves one another and takes care of each other, including the other sisters. They all do their part and beauty may be timid, but she isn’t lacking courage. The Beast isn’t even introduced until roughly half way through the story, which didn’t bother me one bit. I actually preferred the Beast in this book because he’s very generous and kind–offering beautiful clothing, delicious foods, books, and jewelry to Beauty. There isn’t anything he won’t do for her. In addition, he wants to share all of his wealth with her family and sends home thoughtful treasures to them all, most importantly, dreams about Beauty. It’s so heartwarming.

My only issue was the ending which felt rushed and there just wasn’t enough explanation of the enchantment. Was beauty also changed (to look more beautiful like her mother), or was her self-esteem just magically fixed? Why couldn’t she just stay the way she was, because the Beast loved her that way and from the very beginning felt that she was beautiful? I wanted Beauty to gain self-esteem naturally without this instant fix and surely not become remodeled by an enchantment whisking her away from her supposed ‘ugliness.’ It also seemed weird that when Beast changed back to a prince, he was then aged with gray-streaked hair, while Beauty was not. It was unclear what ages they were because Beauty was only in her teens and the Beast would now be in his forties. These things niggled me. Maybe I’m missing something, but I did reread the ending twice and this was a similar situation previously with her mother and father’s marriage. Regardless, it’s still a happy ending and I certainly won’t tear the book apart and rate it low because the ending wasn’t written the way I wanted it to be.

Overall, I loved this retelling all the way to the end. I’m happy to have read it and will be on the lookout for more books by Robin McKinley.


You can also see this on my blog@ www.readrantrockandroll.com
Profile Image for Kat Kennedy.
475 reviews16.2k followers
July 15, 2015
I curse this book with a thousand crotch louse.

It's not I didn't like this book. At least, I like the beginning for awhile. But this book's plot was enough to drive me into a rant.

Getting out of the way the fact that the characterisation is great and the setting is stunning and all that shit, let's get into possibly McKinley's only, and truly great weakness, which is plotting and pacing.

The book reads at the speed of an unhurried snail. It starts a full 2.5ish years before Beauty even meets the Beast and shows no sincere interest in moving things along for the sake of actually telling the story. Beauty spends a stunningly little amount of time with the Beast and when we actually meet him, most of that time is glossed over in narrative telling rather than showing.


fuck off

Then, right, the whole thing is wrapped up in about 20 pages. It was infuriating. I don't feel like Beauty's back story and life before the Beast helped us understand her motivations and character arc any great deal. I felt like it was cumbersome for the sake of being cumbersome and wordy and artistic.

I'm so mad about this, that I'm practically hopping. I'm hopping mad, I say!

Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
July 7, 2018
fairy tale retellings are fascinating - i went through a datlow-phase years ago, and i have read many others outside of her collections - it is a comfortable pleasure for me. so, since i am now going on an "introduce myself to the fantasy genre" expedition, this book seemed like the most logical entrée into it all.

beauty and the beast was never one of my favorite fairy tales - i don't know why, particularly, but i usually preferred the ones that didn't have a corresponding disney movie which would unavoidably be playing in the back of my head as i was reading them, not to mention the songs - the dreadful songs...

but i really liked this adaptation.

the best thing about this particular version is that mckinley changes the backstory a little bit in a way that makes it more natural and a much better story overall.

most fairy tales operate by isolating the main character. the heroes and heroines are frequently orphans, or abandoned by their parents/stepparents, friendless and forced to make their own way with the occasional animal or supernatural ally. but in this retelling, beauty comes from a loving family. she and her sisters are close, her father loves her deeply, she has a strong sense of community and duty.

the cinderella type, who stoically goes on sweeping and polishing while everyone around her abuses her and enslaves her while she just keeps turning the other cheek as though she is in a morphine daze - i cannot get behind that kind of character, because they seem less human and more symbolic; they are empty. in the original b and the b - of course beauty would go to the beast - what's she got to keep her where she is?? some shitty sisters and a weak father? (she does love her father in the original, but the rest of her life is pretty easy to leave behind). but in this version, her decision is made out of love and sacrifice and she is giving up so much, that it makes her sympathetic, but not some doormat like so many others, doing "good" because they have been lobotomized sometime in their past. her decision feels more natural considering her background; the sacrifice is greater than that of someone with nothing to lose. this young woman has learned how to love and how to be nurturing from a support system that includes her family, but also includes her neighbors and everyone she meets along the way, in a natural nice-girl way that is never treacly. and she is no gentle delicate flower, either - this girl is a perfect match for the beast.

without that family-oriented background, it is illogical that she would have learned how to be kind, how to be giving, how to care for the beast enough to bring him back to his true form. (there is no way i am putting a spoiler alert on this review, by the way - DO YOU LIVE IN A HOLE???) i think that mckinley made absolutely the right choice by changing the parts she did, and her prose is beautiful and simple and a real treat to read.

and don't get me started on that library. this is why we need more booknerd heroines in our fairy tales. so books like this can be written.

i think i got muddled somewhere in the middle of all that, but never mind - maybe the brain will make more sense tomorrow...


and if anyone can tell me the fairy tale collection my grandmother had when i was little, i would be so grateful.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.7k followers
November 18, 2019
$1.99 Kindle sale, Nov. 18, 2019. This is a cozy, delightful retelling of The Beauty and the Beast tale, one of my very favorite fairy tale retellings and comfort reads.

Update: I've just read Beauty again for the first time in 15 years or more, but I probably read this 5 or 6 times when I was in my 20s, so you are not getting an unbiased opinion here. But I still adore this book, even though I'm older and more cynical now. It's a fairly simple, straightforward retelling of the fairy tale, with a few relatively minor twists. But the writing is lovely, the characters charming, and McKinley used a very fairy tale-ish style of writing that fits the story well. The ending is a little rushed, but otherwise I have no complaints. I want to be Beauty's bestie and chat books and eat buttered toast with her and help her braid Greatheart's mane.

Beauty keeps all 5 stars. Call it nostalgia, but I'm not even a little bit sorry!

Initial review: Beauty has been for a long time one of my favorite fairy tale novelizations. It's a delightful read, not as long or complex as some of Robin McKinley's later works, but it has sweetness and a heart and has withstood many re-readings. I remain convinced that Disney swiped several details of this book for its "Beauty and the Beast," like the book-loving heroine:


and the servants that seem to have become part of the furniture:


It's been at least 10 or 15 years since I read this and I probably should do a re-read one of these days to see if it's really a 5-star book or if it's just an excess of nostalgia for an old favorite that's driving my high rating. Till then, just don't go into this expecting something really deep or earth-shaking; it's more of a lovely, sweet, gentle comfort read.
Profile Image for Robin Hobb.
Author 348 books97.7k followers
June 3, 2017
This is absolutely my favorite retelling of the familiar tale of Beauty and the Beast.

An aside: it far outshines the Disney one.

McKinley begins the tale with the very familiar setting: A merchant with daughters has fallen on hard times. He and his family are reduced to living in near poverty.

But there she diverges, to give us a believable family structure of the daughters who have various levels of resourcefulness in dealing with their straitened circumstances. They are a family, and there are no cardboard 'evil sisters' in this telling.

I love McKinley's style in all of her books I have read. It is absolutely transparent. I fall into her writing effortlessly, and surface hours later feeling as if I have experienced a life rather than read a story.
Profile Image for Patty Blount.
Author 14 books754 followers
January 22, 2011
I try hard not to use spoilers in these reviews but find that is impossible in this case. But, since it’s a tale as old as time, maybe you’ll forgive me for it just this once.

I did not like the book.

Wow, that’s hard to say. I love stories, love books – the way the pages feel under my fingers. I like stories that make me care about the characters, that drop me into the action. Hand me an Avery Cates novel and I am oblivious to the roar of NASCAR engines on the big screen TV, to the dinner burning in the oven, and even to someone speaking directly to me. (My sons can attest to this.) For me to admit I didn’t care for a story is an extremely rare occurrence. The last time it happened was with Angelology and I don’t like the feeling.

Here is the summary:

Sixteen-year-old Beauty has never liked her nickname. Thin, awkward, and undersized, with big hands and huge feet, she has always thought of herself as the plainest girl in her family – certainly not nearly as lovely as her elder sisters, Hope and Grace. But what she lacks in looks, she makes up for in courage. When her father comes home one day with the strange tale of an enchanted castle in the wood and the terrible promise he has made to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows what she must do. She must go to the castle and tame the Beast – if such a thing is possible.

Here is the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast.

Books are my life, and words are my business, so how indeed can it be possible for me to not like a story? I’ve thought about that and here’s what I’ve come up with. I am not a fan of most classic lit. I have yet to finish a single Jane Austen novel because they bore me to tears. I didn’t like Lord of the Rings because it moved too slowly. Based on the back cover summary, there should be plenty of action to keep me interested. But there wasn’t.

BEAUTY is a short book but it’s divided into three parts, two of which I found unnecessary. I inserted book marks at each Part’s beginning and closed the book. Eye-balling my bookmarks, I see that Part 3 starts about mid-book. This is where I would have begun the story. Instead, McKinley devotes Part 1 to character history, introducing us to Beauty, whose real name is Honour, and her two older sisters, Hope and Grace. Despite the entire first Part dedicated to introductions, I could not keep straight who was Hope and who was Grace, which is important because one of them is in love with a sailor later lost at sea and the other, with an iron worker named Gervain. I never forged any connections to these characters to care how the story developed. We’re told Beauty is unfortunately named and that she is the clever and courageous one. Much of these first fifty pages is devoted to describing how clever Beauty is, which set my expectations that her cleverness might somehow aid her eventual fate to tame the Beast.

A reversal of the family’s fortune forces them out of their home and into the wood, where Gervain has located a blacksmith forge suitable for the entire lot should Beauty’s sister Hope ( I think) accept his marriage proposal. It’s a hard life, but the girls all adjust and Hope is happy in her marriage. Meanwhile, news of the ship lost at sea arrives and Beauty’s father returns to their former home to learn what became of his men. The months pass and when her father returns, he arrives with a rose and a very strange tale of an enchanted castle in the woods owned by a horrible beast who has forced him into even more horrible promise.

Part 2 picks up with Father relating both tale and promise. For stealing one of the Beast’s roses, Father must hand over Beauty. Beauty must agree to the plan of her own free will because she loves her father enough to want to save his life… and be courageous enough to bear the separation. I figured these conditions must have something to do with the enchantment that made Beast a beast, but … I was left hanging here.

There is a debate, but in the end, Beauty insists upon going to fulfill her father’s promise. Here is some proof of the courage I’d expected her to display but I expected… more.

Finally, Part 3 is where the traditional story begins. Beauty meets the Beast and adjusts to life in the enchanted castle. For someone whose cleverness is so lauded throughout Parts 1 and 2, I expected Beauty’s curiosity to answer the questions I had – how did the Beast come to be a beast? Why force such horrid promises from a stranger? What was her role in his world, aside from his admission he is looking for a wife? But she is strangely docile, even polite to her captor and an uneasy and unlikely friendship too quickly forms between them as Beauty attempts to make the best of her situation, even growing happy to some extent.

I find this hard to believe.

As time passes, Beauty realizes she can hear some of the invisible servants hovering around her. Cleverness is again exhibited; Beauty does not acknowledge her ability to hear them. But again, I was disappointed that this ploy failed to yield any useful information about the secrets the Beast is keeping.

Then, poof! We hit the climax where Beauty is permitted home to inform her sister that the sailor feared lost at sea is returning for her. Miraculously, she discovers she is in love with the Beast, fights to find her way back to tell him so, though I was never sure why and the enchantment is lifted.

So, I felt let down. I had expectations and they were not met. Is Beauty clever? Then why did she never figure out the man in the portraits all over the castle were the Beast himself? Is Beauty courageous? Then why did she never defy the Beast? Never test the limits of his patience, push the boundaries of the enchantment that surrounded them? Like Chekov’s Gun, these traits were stated repeatedly from the opening scene, hanging over the mantle and never fired.

Read BEAUTY for yourselves. See if you agree with me. If you don’t, I hope you’ll tell me what I missed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
January 1, 2021
Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour, but few people except I perhaps the minister who had baptized all three of us remembered my given name. (c)
Hope named her Mercy, after our sister who had died, although I privately thought that our family already had more than enough virtues personified. (c)
My intellectual abilities gave me a release, and an excuse. I shunned company because I preferred books; and the dreams I confided to my father were of becoming a scholar in good earnest, and going to University. (c)
I was frightened of the unknown that we faced, and of our ignorance; but I had never been afraid of hard work, I had no beauty to lose, nor would there be any wrench at parting from high society, I didn’t relish the thought of sleeping in an attic and washing my own clothes, but then it didn’t fill me with horror either, and I was still young enough to see it in the light of an adventure. (c)
When spring came I dug up the garden and planted it, and weeded it, and prayed over it, and fidgeted; and almost three years of lying fallow had agreed with it, because it produced radishes the size of onions, potatoes the size of melons, and melons the size of small sheep. The herb border ran wild, and the air smelled wonderful; the breezes often stirred the piney, mossy smell of the forest with the sharp smell of herbs, mixed in the warm smell of fresh bread from the kitchen, and then flung the result over the meadow like a handful of new gold coins. (c)
I sat on my bed and looked out at the quiet woods, black and silver in snow and moonlight, and serene. There was nothing watchful or brooding about that stillness; whatever secrets were hidden in that forest were so perfectly kept that their existence could not be suspected nor even imagined by any rational faculty. (c)
... the sun filled the castle and its gardens with gold, like nectar in a crystal goblet; the roses gleamed like facets. (c)

Such a beautiful fairy tale retelling! Love the emotional stuff, how close-knit the family is. A great character dev and setting: a well-off family gets into a hardship and needs to change their way of life, move to a cheaper place in distant lands and build a new way of living. With magic and enchantments being hidden right next to them.
Great descriptions, pacing, lovely characters. Wow! A new fav of mine.
Profile Image for Kelly.
878 reviews4,025 followers
June 16, 2009
An absolutely lovely rendition of my favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. There have been many retellings of this tale, from the bodice ripping romance novel covers featuring men muscled to the point of beastliness, holding pale, innocent flowers, to, of course, the smart young lady with a conveinently lovely voice for a Disney musical. This one falls somewhere poignantly in between- in just the perfect place for adult fans of both genres to find something that they can identify with, while still appealing to the age group that this book is most directly useful to, the pre-teen and teenager demographic.

When I say this, I don't mean to demean the novel in any way, I am just speaking from my own experience. Had I discovered this novel as a 13 year old, I'm sure I would have read it ragged to shreds, over and over again. As it is, there are still places where this tale truly gets to me, places where I had to pause and start all over again, it aroused such strong memories of points in my younger life.

The images of transformation were my favorite parts of this novel- they are the turning points that move the plot along. It is a quietly told tale, told mostly in a calmly adult voice (just as one would expect from a fireside fairy tale), but the points where that voice breaks are the most touchingly, heartbreakingly lovely in the piece. That break always happened at these poignant moments where transformation glittered all about young Beauty and/or her family. And her response to each of these moments is what made this tale so amazingly human- her utter refusal to accept who she was and who she became. The scene of the silver princess dress really did get to me. That symbol was perhaps the most effective one that they could have chosen. McKinley did such a wonderful job of presenting the idea that people never change until they are ready to, even if it is a positive change, even if it is necessary for their lives... because leaving behind your identity is the scariest thing of all. Living in an enchanted castle, far away from the effects of the world, enforced or not, is the closest that our practical heroine can come to Sleeping Beauty's hundred years of sleep. I found myself in perfect sympathy with McKinley's heroine, and I felt her journey of growth was perfectly organic, one thing given time to develop into another, something helped by the often distant, traditional fairy tale telling to most of the piece. It made the moments of her change into the woman she didn't believe in all the more lovely.

We all have moments where we want to duck our faces in the ground, and play the ostrich for as long as possible. It is always lovely to read books that remind us what we'd be willfully missing if we gave into that urge for too long.

I do wish that McKinley had let us spend a little more time with Beauty at the end of her journey- I'd like to see that she doesn't quite entirely smoothly adapt, to see what remains of her changes, and most importantly, that she still retains her self inside that silver gown.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
569 reviews3,946 followers
August 20, 2022
Como la mítica película de Disney del 91, esta novela está basada en el cuento de La Bella y la Bestia de Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Lo curioso es que Mckinley, que publicó este libro en el 78, hizo un trabajo excelente adaptando el cuento casi punto por punto pero dándole tal carácter y encanto a sus personajes que permite que el lector disfrute de cada página aún sabiendo exactamente por donde va a ir el argumento en cada momento.
Algunas de las cosas más acertadas de la película, como el hecho de que Bella sea una auténtica fanática de los libros, su amor por su gigantesco caballo y la escena de la enorme biblioteca del castillo no estaban en el cuento original, que yo sepa, y sospecho que alguien de Disney leyó esta historia antes de ponerse con el guión definitivo.
Sea como sea, a mi este libro me ha parecido una delicia.
Fue la primera novela de Mckinley, y eso se nota porque es una obra más sencilla y menos arriesgada que otros de sus libros, pero tiene su encanto único, con ese reino de cuento de hadas, y sus personajes encantadores.
En esta historia no hay personas malvadas, no hay giros, ni sorpresas, el centro tampoco es el romance (aunque lo hay), sino la vida de Bella y su manera de enfrentarse a las penalidades que le suceden a su familia, así como el paso de su madurez.
Es uno de esos libros altamente cozy que te hace sentir bien.
El nivel de inglés es super facilito, pero no entiendo que no esté en castellano... diría que es perfecto para un público a partir de los 11 o 12 años.
Profile Image for Gail Carriger.
Author 57 books14.9k followers
February 3, 2019
One of my favorite retellings of Beauty and the Beast. The family is loving and the prose beyond witty. If you love the Disney version, it owes a lot to this book. 
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
May 9, 2019
sale alert 9May19 Kindle deal for 1.99 here

Hi. My name is Robin and I have a buddy reading addiction.

Hi Robin

So why not add another impromptu Buddy Read with My Enabler Jessica and The Instigator Tadiana over at BB&B on Oct 14

The great thing about a fantasy is that some of it is timeless. That is totally the case with Beauty. It was originally published in 1978 shhhh but when you pick it up it is really a tale as old as time but it can be told throughout these decades seamlessly. It could as easily been published last month and because it is fantasy you’d never know.

Why I liked this Re-Telling:

It’s a classic beauty and the beast retelling the one I remember from my own childhood with an enchanted castle, the rose, the curse.
Ger strode forwards and caught him in his arms as he staggered, and then half carried him to a seat near the fire. As he sank down with a sigh we all noticed that in his hand he held a rose: a great scarlet rose, bigger than any we had seen before, in full and perfect bloom. “Here, Beauty,” he said to me, and held it out. I took it, my hand trembling a little, and stood gazing at it. I had never seen such a lovely thing.

I also saw where Disney might have got some of there ideas from. There are mysterious voices and servants in the castle that are invisible and always trying to ‘help’ Beauty with getting dressed and dancing a parade of food in front of her at meal times to chose from.

The Castle itself is amazing with rooms that move and melodious giggling winds that try to direct you around the place. As soon as you start to feel lost just go around the corner and your room will be there.

The Beast was sweet and charming and my heart broke for him as he tried to get close to a reluctant beauty. He has been lonely for so long and it really showed through in the story.
“You fainted,” he said; his voice was a rough whisper. “I caught you before you reached the floor. You—you might have hurt yourself. I only wanted to lay you down somewhere that you could be comfortable.” I stared at him, still kneeling, with my fingernails biting into the sofa cushions. I couldn’t look away from him, but I did not recognize what I saw. “You—you clung to me,” he said, and there was a vast depth of pleading in his voice.

This is a perfect story for MG and YA readers for an introduction to fantasy writing as well as great for older readers that want to feel transported back to their younger selves.


If you are a semi-book snob like me you’d miss this book because it is ‘too old’. But I challenge everyone to get past that way of thinking at least in the fantasy genre.

It takes a little time to pick up. The beginning was slightly slow for me especially as they are traveling out of the city to their new lives in the country. I sometimes get really board during traveling….just me. But once they are settled in the country and all the tales of the magical enchanted wood start cropping up I was totally hooked.
“It’s said there’s a castle in a wild garden at the center of these woods; and if you ever walk into the trees till you are out of sight of the edge of the forest and you can see nothing but big dark trees all around you, you will be drawn to that castle; and in the castle there lives a monster. He was a man once, some tales say, and was turned into a terrible monster as a punishment for his evil deeds; some say he was born that way, as a punishment to his parents, who were king and queen of a good land but cared only for their own pleasure.”


This is a beautiful retelling of a classic story with great imagery, a strong heroine and fantastic language in the telling. Totally worth a read.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 31 books5,634 followers
May 1, 2013
I can't believe I haven't reviewed this properly before! This book was so influential in the writing of my fairy tales! It has been so influential my writing in general! This book is the forerunner, and set the standard, for modern YA fairy tale retellings. And since the last time I read it I've seen Disney's animated Beauty and the Beast roughly 9,000 times with my daughter, and I have to say: if they didn't pay McKinley for her ideas, Disney owes her big time!
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
July 26, 2010
This is a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Robin McKinley's writing is fluid; the descriptions of the castle, landscapes, and even clothes are clear and vivid; horseback-riding scenes and interactions with horses are reflective of the author's superior knowledge of the animals. But other than that, there is hardly anything memorable about Beauty.

I don't know about you, but expect any retelling to bring something new to the original story, some new layers, better understanding of the characters, more intricate backgrounds. Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest is a great example of a retelling done right. McKinley's Beauty doesn't bring anything fresh to the table except maybe that Beauty is not particularly beautiful in the beginning.

My other problem with the book is that Beauty's world before her arrival to the Beast's castle is very vaguely defined. It's hard to even envision in what time her story is placed - 16th, 17th, 18th century?

And finally, the ending of the book is anti-climactic to say the least. Everything happens so fast - the Beast's transformation, love confessions, introduction of the Beast's story, Beauty's sudden realization of her... well beauty, the wedding. All of it is just crammed in the last 2-3 pages. Disappointing and unsatisfying.

Many of these negatives, however, can be forgiven if you keep in mind that this book is Robin McKinley's debut. And the writing is lovely.
Profile Image for Jude: The Epic Reader.
598 reviews78 followers
March 16, 2023
I am not that big of a fan of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I definitely prefer the way that McKinley retells the story. I love the sibling relationship, I love how we don't know a lot about the Beast or the why or how of things. This just feels more of a fairy tale to me. There is no real antagonist and there is no real, graspable reality.
Profile Image for Mariah Roze.
1,020 reviews923 followers
March 11, 2017
I read this book for my hometown's Young Women's Book Club. The lady that selected this book, chose it so we could read it and then go to the new Beauty and the Best movie that is coming out. Even though the movie isn't based off this retelling, we thought it would be fun.

I really enjoyed this retelling. It was a super easy, fast read. It was definitely entertaining and different enough without being totally off-track with the story. The introduction and background information started to get a little long and that would have been my only suggestion to the book. For 45% of the book, we still hadn't met the Beast.

Book Summary:
Beauty's real name is Honour, but she didn't like that name so her family called her Beauty. When she was a little older she felt weird having that name, because she believed it didn't fit her. She was thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones.
When her father comes home and shares his terrible experience making a promise with an enchanted castle in the forest and huge, scary Beast, Beauty knows she must go to the castle. And there is where she finds "Happily Ever After."

I suggest this book to anyone that likes to read retellings of Fairy Tales.
Profile Image for Nicole.
320 reviews18 followers
August 23, 2012
This is a quick read - young adult fiction. There were elements of this story (a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast) that had the potential to be really cool, but the author concentrated on the clothes and hair and food instead of the magic. I'm all for detail, but come on! The main character was labeled "plain" from the beginning and her sisters were beautiful. Of course in the end the plain one becomes pretty and the Beast is also pretty and TA DA all is right with the world. Booo. Also, many many holes in the world the author created. You know they're big if I notice them.
Profile Image for Melindam.
634 reviews276 followers
February 19, 2023
This is a nice, straightforward retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which I enjoyed without being completely drawn into the story.

While Beauty's background is built up nicely, the spark and excitement was utterly missing from her relationship with the Beast. It was a bit on the boring side.

Profile Image for Veronique.
1,234 reviews169 followers
July 22, 2018
While reading an interview with Naomi Novik about her latest novel Spinning Silver, she mentioned a few titles including this one. Since I’m waiting for her book to be delivered, I decided to give this one a go - that and the fact that Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairy tale.

McKinley’s story is a pretty straightforward retelling, but her writing style is so charming that you can’t help but be captivated by it. From the portrayal of Beauty and her family to the enchanted castle and grounds, and the Beast of course, I loved it all. The only aspect I would have liked a little different is the ending, which was a bit rushed.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,164 followers
August 21, 2013
I'm hesitant to call Beauty a re-telling of "Beauty and the Beast" as it's not so much a re-telling as it is a telling. McKinley's rendition of this classic fairy tale not only fails to veer off from it's typical path, but it also - sadly - fails to capture much of the magic of the original tale as well. I half expected my Kindle to burst into song or for "A Tale as Old as Time" to suddenly play out of thin air, but I fear I enjoyed even Disney's telling of this tale more than McKinley's.

From the surface, there is nothing egregiously different about this story from the classic "Beauty and the Beast" tale. All the usual elements are present - Beauty willingly goes to live in the Beast's castle, the Beast slowly wins her heart, and the spell of bestiality is broken. With such a simple formula, it seems impossible to really fail; and McKinley hasn't. I cannot deny that her writing is lush and gorgeous, the magical enchantment strangely enticing, the interactions between Beauty and her Beast unerringly lovely. And yet, I feel as if the fault of this novel lies in its perfection.

Most notably, to me at least, is the utter humanity that seeps through the Beast. After a two hundred year imprisonment, this is - oddly enough - not a man to lose his temper or give in to any of his bestial traits. In fact, he is always the perfect gentleman, which essentially makes him a bore. Either than a small temper tantrum that is mentioned - not even witnessed - Beauty is given no reason to dislike the Beast. Not only is he kind and caring, but he provides Beauty with every comfort, including companionship. Of course Beauty falls in love with him - what's not to love? With this fairy tale, appearance is the only obstacle to cross, which takes away from the depth of this classic story. Beauty never has to tame the Beast, as she so bravely announces in the first part of this novel, so their love story is disgustingly sweet and a complete bore as well.

Beauty herself is also another paragon of perfection. When confronted with sending her father to his death or willingly venturing into the Beast's lair - one where, rumor has it, he eats humans - she quickly volunteers to go and swiftly begins to enjoy her time spent in the enchanted castle. Although she is described as being studious, she is disappointingly dull and never curious at all, which works well for the story, but not so much for her characterization. Furthermore, while Beauty is forced to defend her Beast against her family's opinions, they all come together in the last few pages for a typical happily-ever-after without the surprise or wonder of seeing Beauty's Beast transformed into a man.

Unfortunately, the more Robin McKinley I read, the more I am convinced that the rest of the world is seeing something I am not. I think McKinley is an extremely talented storyteller, but as an author, she manages to nearly always fall short of my expectations when it comes to characterization and development. Is Rose Daughter a sad repeat of Beauty? I suppose I'll find out, soon enough.
Profile Image for Sean.
49 reviews14 followers
September 26, 2007
The title says it all. This book is beautiful on every level: Writing, characters, story, themes. I thought it was an awesome portrait of quiet, gentle love and the joy to be found in simple things.

Dudes and ladies alike: Just read it.
Profile Image for Victoria.
204 reviews489 followers
December 15, 2016
Une très bonne lecture, douce et émouvante, avec une touche parfaite de féerie ! Moi qui n'avais pas d'attachement particulier à cette histoire, je meurs d'envie désormais de voir le film en 2017.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,618 reviews478 followers
March 19, 2011
There is something about the Beauty and the Beast story that is attractive to society in general and to the literature, movie making crowd in particular. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch and other books in varying literary quality draw on the motif, subverting, perverting, or simply retelling it (One of my faves is Jane Yolen's version which is a mash up with O Henry's Gift of the Magi). It is no surprise that Robin McKinely was drawn to the tale, twice, and any reader can see the germ of the second novel in this book, her first.

McKinley's writing, in particular The Hero and the Crown, was one very important touchstone of my childrhood, as it seems to be for many fantasy reading women of my age. I can't help but wish that teen girls of today would read her the obessive way and in the vast amount of numbers of those that read Twilight or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. McKinley writes better, and she will most likely last longer.

This book, McKinley's first and her first retelling of Beauty and the Beast, was totally ripped off by the Walt Disney Company for thier movie. It's actually sad and insulting because not only did Disney rip it off, but they totally shortened the Beauty character (now, before people come and demand my Tigger shirt back, I happen to like the Disney movie, but a spade is a spade. Get over it).

McKinley draws heavily on the French version of the story, yet she makes it her own. Beauty likes to read, but unlike Disney's Belle (Beautiful in French), Beauty reads literature, not the romance novels of her day. Belle's love of reading is based on her love for romantic adventure; Beauty's is based on a love reading for itself and for knowledge. She is a scholar. It is difficult to imagine Disney's Belle having the same reaction to the library in this book, that Beauty does (also, we are never given a title of what Belle reads, hmmm).

Another change that McKinley makes, and she is one of the few authors who does this, is make Beauty's family a loving family. Beauty not only loves her father, but she loves her sisters. She and her sisters get along. They take to each other, not down to each other. They are not in competition. This isn't a fairy tale of the bad sisters being punished and the good (always the young one) being rewarded; it's about a loving family being rewarded.

Because this is early McKinley, there are flaws in the book, flaws that make the reader understand why McKinley basically rewrote the story in Rose Daughter. Beauty, for instance, is almost too perfect. She is the girl who stands out because she is not only more bookish, but more boyish than the other women. This perfection is dealt with in the end sequence. Additionally, Beauty's gaining of Greatheart feels like a wish fullment version of the horse movie of the week. But these are really, almost nit-picking. The most serious flaw is the fact that Beauty's sisters, Grace and Hope, are almost interchangable, though fully likable. McKinley also presents the view that being non-bookish is not any worse than being bookish, which is nice.

What I truly love, now, however, is simply that I only realized when I re-read this book as an adult. Beauty and the Beast from its earliest days was always a story about women and marriage, in particular the fear of marriage that must have developed in a society when the marriages were arranged and husband and wife barely knew each other. McKinley keeps this, and adds, understandably, a fear of desire and of changing into an adult. In many of Beauty's reactions to Beast there is the change of pubertry but also that struggle of coming to terms with adult desire, love, and one's own sexuality.
Profile Image for Jess.
484 reviews63 followers
September 23, 2014
Nothing new or Earth shattering here, but if you like Beauty and the Beast, its a super fast and an enjoyable read.

I sort of beyond love the story of Beauty and the Beast,as a child I loved fairy tales, but this was always my favourite. My mum likes to tell people how when asked why I like this one so much, I would say "Beauty had the best shake outta life" and she did for reals. I was a realistic child I saw these fairy tales for what they were:

basically a maid who didn't get paid...Gross

Her whole life is camping.....Gross

Little Mermaid

Deep water creeps me out
as do eels....Gross

Snow White
There are so many many many things that upset me but if she just took a basic lesson from raccoons and washed that apple Jessi may have had a few less nightmares growing up..Gross,Gross,Grosss

Beauty got to live in a castle with magic servants who were invisible(no guilt)and read, there is a beast who thinks she's beautiful and lavishes gifts on her and only wants to win her heart. Um not gross.
Because I love this story soooo much I am can be a little bit more critical of different versions,this one my only complaint is there is not a lot of time spent on the relationship between Beauty and Beast,very little emotional development, it was like boom! they were in love just by hanging out together, other then that fun read!
Profile Image for Grace.
129 reviews113 followers
May 25, 2021
One of my friends has been telling me to read Robin McKinley's Beauty and the Beast retelling for a while now. Little did I know, Robin McKinley actually has TWO Beauty and the Beast retellings (the other one is Rose Daughter) and I read the wrong one. Oops. Nevertheless, Beauty is available for free right now with Prime Reading. It was a fun read and I don't regret picking it up as my first time reading McKinley's work.

Although this book is technically a romance, you'd be disappointed if you read it thinking it would be the kind of book that focuses primarily on the romance with a beastly love interest, like Cruel Beauty, for example. Instead, Beauty is a rather close retelling of the original story. While there are a few noticeable changes, such as the fact that McKinley's Beauty has only three sisters and no brothers, and isn't the most beautiful girl in the land, I felt like these weren't enough to make the story truly unique. It was almost too much of a retelling.

However, I adored McKinley's writing style. It was nice enough on its own to keep me reading. I loved Beauty's character, especially her relationship with her brother-in-law and her horse. The character development, writing, and the fact that I never wanted to stop reading made me rate the book four stars, even if the unoriginality of it kept me from giving five stars.
Profile Image for Helen Power.
Author 13 books467 followers
April 15, 2020
I wanted to love this book, but it lacked for me in plot. The book concentrates on Beauty’s family life prior to moving into the castle to live with the Beast. This is the focus of the book, which I had not been expecting at all. I wanted to read about the castle and whatever mysterious magic goes on there, but this only took up the last little bit of the book.  While the events that unfolded in her home life with her father and her sisters were interesting, I couldn’t quite enjoy it because I was waiting for the real story. It almost felt like two books ideas were slapped together, when they would have served better as two separate stories.
Language & Setting 
The major appeal for this story is the writing style. Robin McKinley has an exquisite writing style, and the way that she describes the settings and the characters makes it seem like they could leap off the page and into the real world.
I had a hard time connecting with Beauty, even though she was an ordinary girl with a love for books. It might be an artifact of the writing style - when the writing focuses on style and beauty of language, I personally find it harder to connect with the protagonist.  While we frequently get glimpses into her head and what she’s thinking, I never connected with her on a deeper level. 

Unfortunately, her family was far more developed than any of the characters in the castle. We don’t get to truly meet any of the servants, since they’re invisible, yet it’s understood that they’re there. The Beast is somewhat of a caricature, and, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure why Beauty fell in love with him.  However, if Beauty's time in the castle had made up as much of the book as the events leading up to it, I do feel that I would have had enough time to grow to appreciate the Beast and his idiosyncracies.


I recommend this book to those who are looking for a different take on a magical medieval life, but aren't expecting the story to exactly mirror the movie.  There is a much greater focus on her family than on her time with the Beast, and knowing this before reading the story might increase your enjoyment of it.


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This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/

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Profile Image for Katie Hanna.
Author 6 books107 followers
December 24, 2017
This is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, for me? Mayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyybe edging more towards 4? I'm quite perplexed as to how to rate it properly, I'm afraid.

The writing style itself--taken on its own--would EASILY merit 5 stars, if not more. It was simply delicious. Light, and airy, and clear, and never confusing in the slightest. I loved it. I want to be able to write like this, someday:

"The sun shone through a window, then made its delicate, fawn-footed way across the broad inlaid floor, and found the Beast's blue velvet shoulders to set on fire."

I mean to say, Jeeves. That is excellent. I'm most impressed.

The story itself was very well-handled, too, until the end--and that's where it fell short of my expectations. Hence, me taking off 1 or 2 stars. Basically, I had been very much hoping this story would give some sort of explanation as to WHY it was "okay" for the Beast to imprison Beauty in his castle--you know, some sort of unavoidable necessity or whatnot--and it didn't. It just turned out to be the same, old, [slightly] lame excuse that I've already heard a million times: I need a girl to marry me to break the spell. Like . . . sir, that's YOUR problem?? That doesn't give you the right to trick a girl into coming to your castle and then guilt-trip her into staying because you "can't live without her"? Sure, he lets her go at the very end, but he's supremely reluctant to do it and makes her promise to return . . . and . . . I don't know, I just really wanted this story to be different, somehow. Because it was so good in other respects, you know what I mean? I was disappointed.

I was also disappointed in Beauty's story, at the very end :-/ Up until that point, I absolutely loved her: she was plain and stubborn and practical and slightly sarcastic, and such a delightful Kindred Spirit all around, it was awesome. And then . . . what happens at the end of the story?

So . . . yeah. I was quite upset by that.

BUT I was genuinely delighted by all the references to classical learning included in the story. And I loved the magic library. That was special <3

I'm still perplexed about the proper rating. Because it was such a wild mixture of Stuff I Love and Stuff I Don't. I do recommend reading it, though, definitely--for the beautiful descriptions and pacing, at the very least :-)
Profile Image for Nhi Nguyễn.
966 reviews1,241 followers
November 5, 2019
“I said: "He cannot be so bad if he loves roses so much."
"But he is a Beast," said Father helplessly.
I saw that he was weakening, and wishing only to comfort him I said, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

Nếu bạn nào hay theo dõi các thể loại sách mình đọc trên Goodreads thì sẽ biết mình là người cực kỳ thích đọc truyện cổ tích và các tác phẩm kể lại truyện cổ tích (fairy tale retelling). Mà câu chuyện cổ tích (và mô típ truyện cổ tích) mình thích nhất nhất nhất nhất nhất trần đời này chính là “Beauty and the Beast”. Cuốn sách này là một trong rất nhiều phiên bản kể lại câu chuyện cổ tích nổi tiếng này, và “Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” có lẽ cũng là một trong những phiên bản kể lại ��Beauty and the Beast” được nhắc đến nhiều nhất.

Ngay từ khi tham gia Goodreads và biết đến sự tồn tại của cuốn sách này là mình là bỏ nó vào TBR rồi, thế nhưng năm lần bảy lượt lên mang kiếm ebook để down về đọc hoặc kiếm chỗ cho đọc online thì mình đều không thấy có. Phận bookworm mong mỏi được đọc sách đành phải ngậm ngùi “ngâm” tiếp cuốn này trong TBR dài dài, cho tới cái ngày mình biết được trang chuyên bán sách cũ ở nước ngoài Book Outlet. Và thế là mình đã nhanh tay nhanh chân đặt mua cuốn này và nhờ một bé du học sinh ở Canada mà mình quen nhận sách giùm rồi cầm về VN cho mình (Book Outlet chưa cho ship sách về VN, mà nếu có ship thì chắc chắn tiền ship cũng mắc bằng hoặc hơn tiền sách). Để rồi cuối cùng giờ đây mình đã cầm trên tay và đọc xong quyển sách mình đã muốn đọc từ lâu này ^^ Công nhận duyên phận của mình với “Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” cũng gian truân cỡ cỡ một câu chuyện cổ tích nhẩy? :D

Xét về “tuổi đời” thì “Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” chắc chỉ ra đời sau bản truyện gốc và bộ phim “La Belle et La Bête” (1946) nổi tiếng của đạo diễn người Pháp Jean Cocteau. Ấn bản cuốn sách mình đọc được xuất bản năm 1993, nghĩa là cuốn sách mình cầm trên tay có tuổi đời bằng với mình rồi ^^ Còn ấn bản đầu tiên của “Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” ra đời vào năm 1978 lận cơ, tính ra thế là xưa lắm rồi :)) Thành thử ra khi đọc mình thấy có khá nhiều chi tiết hao hao bộ phim “Beauty and the Beast” của Disney, và “La Belle et La Bête” (2014) của Pháp, nhưng phải nói ngược lại mới đúng, rằng nhiều chi tiết trong 2 bộ phim này có lẽ đã được gợi cảm hứng từ cuốn sách này của tác giả Robin McKinley ^^ Và bản thân cuốn retelling này lại cũng có những nét giông giống với câu chuyện gốc.

Nhân vật nữ chính trong cuốn sách cũng là một nàng mọt sách như nàng Belle của Disney, nàng có 2 người chị lớn giống nàng Belle trong câu chuyện gốc. Sự thể dẫn đến việc nữ chính phải sống trong tòa lâu đài với Beast cũng giống như những gì chúng ta đã biết trước đây: cha của Beauty muốn mang một nhành hồng về cho cô con gái út của mình, để rồi lỡ “phạm thượng” vào lãnh thổ của một chàng hoàng tử bị nguyền rủa phải sống trong lốt quái vật. Thế nhưng Beauty của “Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” lại cũng có những nét đặc biệt riêng của nàng, câu chuyện gia đình nàng cũng khác hẳn so với những phiên bản “Beauty and the Beast” mình đã từng biết. Cha của Beauty đã từng là một ông chủ đội tàu thuyền vô cùng giàu có, để rồi những cơn bão biển đã khiến những con tàu của ông mất tích giữa biển khơi, sản nghiệp tiêu tan, ông cùng ba cô con gái di chuyển lên miền bắc và bắt đầu lại cuộc sống mới, tại một nơi có nhiều lời đồn thổi về một con quái vật sống trong một tòa lâu đài, bao quanh là một khu vườn giữa chốn rừng sâu không ai dám bước chân đến.

Beauty trong câu chuyện này tên thật không phải là Beauty; tên khai sinh của nàng là Honour, nhưng vì khi còn bé nàng không hiểu cái chữ “honour” tên của mình nghĩa là gì, nên nàng đã tự đặt biệt danh cho mình là Beauty. Và mặc dù tự gọi mình là Beauty nhưng Beauty lại không đẹp, ít ra là không đẹp bằng hai cô chị Grace và Hope của nàng. Beauty trong câu chuyện này, ngoài việc thích đọc sách như nàng Belle của Disney và yêu hoa hồng như các nàng Belle khác, thì nàng tự nhận mình khá thua kém về sắc đẹp, một cô gái đã 18 tuổi nhưng hình thể bé nhỏ, bình thường (từ tiếng Anh là “plain”, dùng để miêu tả những cô gái không có gì đặc biệt hay nổi trội). Thế nhưng chính cô gái bé nhỏ bình thường ấy lại sở hữu rất nhiều cá tính và sự cứng đầu mà một nàng Belle đích thực nên sở hữu; sự cứng đầu đã đưa nàng đến quyết định thay cha mình đến sống tại tòa lâu đài của Beast, để cứu cha mình không bị Beast giết hại thể theo lời đe dọa của Beast khi bắt tận tay ông đang hái hoa hồng trong vườn.

Và mặc dù là một cô gái cứng đầu, luôn thể hiện bản thân không sợ hãi trước viễn cảnh phải rời xa gia đình để đến gặp một con quái vật, thì Beauty của tác giả Robin McKinley vẫn có những cảm xúc lưu luyến cuộc sống hiện tại và suy nghĩ mông lung về tương lai vô định sắp tới khi phải xa gia đình. Tất cả được thể hiện rất rõ trong những chương truyện trước khi Beauty lên đường để đến với tòa lâu đài bị phù phép, khiến mình trong khoảnh khắc đã thực sự đồng cảm với Beauty, với sự sợ hãi ẩn chứa đằng sau vẻ ngoài cứng cỏi của nàng, dẫu độc giả hoàn toàn biết rằng đoạn kết của Beauty và Beast sẽ luôn là có hậu, rằng Beast sẽ không làm gì để hại nàng. Và khi Beauty bắt đầu cuộc sống của mình ở tòa lâu đài của Beast, cũng là lúc câu chuyện bắt đầu đi vào cái guồng của nó.

Cái cách tác giả miêu tả tòa lâu đài rộng lớn ấy, đặc biệt là cảnh vườn hoa hồng tràn ngập những sắc hoa khác nhau, thực sự khiến mình nhớ đến cinematography tuyệt đẹp của bộ phim Pháp “La Belle et La Bête” (2014). Hãy tưởng tượng giữa một khu rừng bí ẩn có một khu vườn rực rỡ sắc màu, nơi mà bạn phải tự để bản thân mình đi lạc thì mới tới được, nơi mùa xuân luôn ngự trị, hoa luôn nở liên tục và không bao giờ phải chứng kiến cảnh cây héo tàn. Đó chính là khu vườn của Beast, là nơi chốn vừa thần tiên nhưng cũng vừa bị nguyền rủa, nơi Beauty được tiếp đón và chăm sóc bởi một làn gió vốn trước đây là người hầu của Beast, có thể làm tất cả mọi thứ cho nàng, chỉ cần nàng mong muốn điều đó (chứ không phải là những đồ vật biết nói chuyện như bản phim Disney, mặc dù cảm giác cũng gần giống nhau rồi ^^).

“Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” trung thành với bản truyện gốc ở chi tiết sau mỗi tối, trước khi để Beauty quay về phòng ngủ, Beast luôn hỏi nàng một câu hỏi y chang nhau, lặp đi lặp lại mỗi đêm: “Beauty, will you marry me?” Câu hỏi ấy, kết hợp với những cảm xúc trong đôi mắt, dáng người của một gã quái vật đã từng là người, thực sự khiến mình cảm thấy đau lòng cho Beast. Đau lòng đến mức suýt khóc cho một gã trai bị nguyền rủa trong lốt quái vật, cho đến khi nào một trinh nữ chấp thuận kết hôn với chàng bất chấp vẻ ngoài kinh dị. Đó là một ư��c mong hết sức xa vời, một niềm mong mỏi đến mức tuyệt vọng, cho đến những trang cuối cùng của cuốn sách.

Niềm tuyệt vọng ấy được hóa giải bằng tình cảm được xây dựng và bồi đắp dần dần qua từng ngày từng tuần từng tháng giữa hai nhân vật chính, khi mình được chứng kiến Beauty từ chỗ tránh né tiếp xúc với Beast vào ngày đầu tiên ở tòa lâu đài, đã trở thành một người bầu bạn với chàng hoàng tử đã bị nguyền rủa trong 200 năm. Và còn đó cái thư viện khổng lồ nơi Beast sở hữu cả những cuốn sách chỉ được xuất bản trong tương lai, còn đó câu chuyện về một chàng hoàng tử bị trừng phạt, hay đúng hơn là bị bắt thóp vì chàng là một hậu duệ đã từng hư hỏng của một dòng dõi chỉ toàn những con người tốt đẹp đến mức kẻ nguyền rủa chàng đã phải ghen tị mà trừng phạt chàng.

Từ sự tin tưởng chuyển dần sang tình bạn rồi chuyển thành tình yêu, đó là cách mà câu chuyện tình của Beauty và Beast diễn ra. Thế nhưng như William Shakespeare đã viết trong vở kịch “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “The course of true love never did run smooth”, câu chuyện tình của Beauty và Beast cũng đã trải qua những trắc trở như vậy, những thời điểm mâu thuẫn khi Beast không đồng ý cho Beauty trở về thăm gia đình, để rồi cuối cùng phải để nàng đi vì đó là điều đúng đắn. Phẩm chất mà mình yêu thích ở nhân vật Beauty, và ở những nàng Belle, đó chính là dẫu nàng đã quen, đã thân thuộc, đã gần như gắn mình với cuộc sống ở lâu đài, thì một phần nào đó trong nàng vẫn không thể quên được gia đình và gốc rễ của mình. Đoạn Beast chia tay Beauty khi nàng về thăm nhà là một trong những đoạn có cái quote mà mình thích nhất:

“He leaned forwards. There was a bowl of roses on a what-not at his elbow; he lifted out a great red one, like the one Father had brought home nearly eight months ago. “Take this.” I took it, the stem still wet, cool against my fingers. “For a week it will remain fresh and blooming, as it is now; but at the end of the week it will droop and die. You will know then that your faithful Beast is dying too. For I cannot live without you, Beauty.””

Cái kết là có hậu rồi, nhưng trước đó Beauty cũng đã phải chật vật mới tìm đường từ nhà quay lại với Beast. Không có bất kỳ Gaston hay một nhân vật phản diện cụ thể nào để ngăn trở tình yêu lứa đôi, “Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast” đơn thuần là một câu chuyện kể lại “Beauty and the Beast” dành cho thiếu nhi, tập trung khắc họa suy nghĩ, cảm nhận của Beauty và miêu tả quá trình Beauty dần dần yêu Beast và nhận ra điều đó. Gu người lớn của mình mong có cái gì đó bùng nổ hơn, hấp dẫn hơn nữa, nhưng xét đến năm cuốn sách ra đời và đối tượng độc giả mà nó nhắm đến, thì như vậy đã là vẹn tròn. Nếu ai muốn đọc một phiên bản kể lại “Beauty and the Beast” mang tính nguyên thủy, gần nhất với bản truyện gốc thì đây chính là lựa chọn phù hợp.
Profile Image for Allison Tebo.
Author 20 books328 followers
June 18, 2021
Mini Review.

"Beauty" by Robin McKinley is definitely one of the THE most definitive books in my life - specifically on my writing journey. I was utterly enchanted when I first read it at eleven or so - Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite fairy tale - and here was a story with descriptions and dialogue that did it justice - like a velvet cloak draped around a queen's shoulders. Beauty solidified my love of fairy tales and I began writing nothing but fairy tales - only to abandon them after a few years.

How ironic that things have come full-circle again and I'm writing fairy tales once more. Thank you, Robin Mckinley for the inspiration!
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