Beauty by Robin Mckinley is a retelling of the fairytale: Beauty and the Beast. In this retelling, Beauty is not beautiful. She is plain and awkward. She doesn’t process her sisters’ beauty or their interest in handsome suitors or ball gowns. Beauty much prefers to lose herself in her treasured books.
Her life changes when her father loses his way in the dark forest near their home and winds up in a castle where the beast lives. He innocently plucks a rose from the beast gardens to take home to Beauty and angers the Beast in the process. The Beast demands one of the daughters for the man’s life he had intended on ending.
Beauty soon finds herself in the castle at the mercy of the Beast. She discovers magic, curses and love which allow her to look past the outer shell of the Beast to reveal his own beauty.
First off, I love anything to do with fairytales retellings. I also love the story of Beauty and the Beast, as it is my favourite fairytale. So I couldn’t wait to read Beauty by Robin McKinley.
In this retelling there is no villain, instead the story focuses on bringing Beauty and the Beast together before letting them separate for just a small amount of time. It is during this time that danger finds the beast and Beauty realises just how much the Beast has grown to mean to her. Maybe one person can see it as the Beast being the villain at the beginning, but over time his harder out shell melts for just one person, Beauty.
The book is told from Beauty’s point of view and contains more descriptions of things than dialogue. I must admit that I lose interest rather quickly if there are too much descriptive paragraphs, and there was but the book didn’t bore me. I think it was because of the fact it’s told from Beauty’s POV as well is being wrote in first person. I find first person books a lot easier to get through than any others. I think this also helped me to connect in some way with the book’s heroine because I ended up caring about her and wanted her to have her happy ending.
I loved how equal Beauty and the Beast were in terms of beauty. Beauty herself isn’t described as beautiful, she described as “Thin, awkward, and undersized”. She hasn’t the beauty that has been portrayed in other Beauty and the Beast works, for example the Disney Film: Beauty and the Beast, Belle was a beauty on the outside as well as on the inside. It is Beauty’s personality that is beautiful which enables her to see past the beastly form the beast has been cursed into and see the man hidden within.
I also loved how the Beast let Beauty leave him even though he knew he would die because of it. I loved how her leaving him caused him to die a slow death, which is so beautiful in a way. As readers we’re shown just how connected the Beast is to the castle and everything else around him, so much that when he dies the magic in his castle dies with him.
I did like how much Roses played a big part in the book, which reminded me of other Beauty and the Beast retellings I have read in the past. There isn’t an enchanted rose in a glass like the Disney film; there are rose gardens and enchanted roses given to Beauty by the Beast.
I loved the book very much and I would definitely reread it at a later stage to lose myself in its magic once more.