First Lines: Her earliest memory was of waking from the dream. It was also her only clear memory of her mother.
Yes, this book is older. Yes, it’s also a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which happens to be my favorite fairy tale in the history of ever. So was I going to be able to pass it up? …No, no I was not. Like a dieter in a chocolate factory, I couldn’t help myself.
Beauty used to live a charmed life, daughter of a prominent businessman who two older sisters who loved her. But things changed when her father lost everything and the family was forced to leave the only home they’d ever known. Just as Beauty is making a new life for herself, she’s forced to save her father by living with a Beast in a palace. This Beast has a request for Beauty: bring his dying roses back to life. They are the heart of the palace. The question isn’t whether Beauty can do it, but whether she’ll be able to leave after she does…
Happy sigh. If there’s anyone who’s going to get a Beauty and the Beast retelling right, it’s Robin McKinley, who writes many fairytale retellings. And this one was pretty stunning.
Having previously read McKinley’s Beauty, which is probably her most famous book and her first BatB retelling, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. A friend of mine had once told me that Beauty was better than Rose Daughter, and I had that mental image in my head as I went into this.
But truly, I think I liked this one better. I liked Beauty, I liked her relationship with her family, and I liked the Beast. It was a great, well-rounded retelling.
This is a pretty faithful tale to the original story. Pretty girl, dad in distress, girl sacrifices herself, Beast keeps her prisoner…you get the idea. There’s nothing really new with the plot. Sure, there are some slight differences in how exactly the plot is pulled off, but it’s basically the tale as old as time. Every now and then you just need a classic fairytale, you know?
Normally I’m not much of a fan of the backstory in BatB retellings. I’d rather just skip right to the girl with the Beast. But this time around, I was interested. Beauty came from a close-knit family that struggled and overcame obstacles together. And that alone was vastly different than like 80% of fairytales.
But, as usual, it’s Beauty’s time with the Beast that really won me over. Sigh. This was perfect.
I have noticed that as McKinley’s writing matures, she gets wordier. Her descriptions of things get longer and more drawn-out. I frequently found myself unconsciously skipping paragraphs to get past the details and back to the plot. When I’d catch myself doing that, I’d have to go back and reread those sections because I usually missed some important detail. It was frustrating for me, and I think it’s just something stylistic about McKinley’s writing that I’m just not fond of. But I do like her storytelling, so I put up with it.
Overall, it’s a great fairytale retelling. It’s got all the charm of a BatB story and it’s a must read for fans of the story.