Review – Beauty by Robin McKinley


By Robin McKinley

SummaryRobin McKinley’s acclaimed first novel is a brilliant reimagining of the classic French fairy tale. I was the youngest of three daughters. Our literal-minded mother named us Grace, Hope, and Honour. . . . My father still likes to tell the story of how I acquired my odd nickname: I had come to him for further information when I first discovered that our names meant something besides you-come-here. He succeeded in explaining grace and hope, but he had some difficulty trying to make the concept of honour understandable to a five-year-old. . . . I said: ‘Huh! I’d rather be Beauty.’ . . . By the time it was evident that I was going to let the family down by being plain, I’d been called Beauty for over six years. . . . I wasn’t really very fond of my given name, Honour, either . . . as if ‘honourable’ were the best that could be said of me. The sisters’ wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?” 

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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I have never read Beauty and Beast and am mostly familiar with the tale based on the Disney version, though I’ve read quite a few retellings over the years. It’s one of my favorite fairy tale type of stories. Without having ever read the original, I can’t say for sure how close any of the retellings really are, but I wouldn’t classify Beauty by Robin McKinley as a REtelling, but rather as a telling of the fairy tale. Few details differed from the version I’m familiar with and there was nothing reimagined about it at all.

The book wasn’t bad and it was enjoyable, but I kept waiting for unique and different things to happen and literally it was just Beauty and Beast as I’m familiar with it, minus the talking teapots. 

 The book was short, so it didn’t take too much time to read, but I don’t know that I’d really recommend it because it was so predictable and the writing wasn’t profound enough to warrant reading it. Honestly, I could’ve just watched the Disney version and called it a day. I expected the story to veer off and be different or interesting in some type of way and I just didn’t get what I expected from the book at all.

Star 2



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