Fairytale Retelling / YA Fantasy (287 pgs.)
"It is the heart of this place, and it is dying," says the Beast. And it is true; the center of the Beast's palace, the glittering glasshouse that brings Beauty both comfort and delight in her strange new environment, is filled with leafless brown rosebushes. But deep within this enchanted world, new life, at once subtle and strong, is about to awaken. Twenty years ago Robin McKinley enthralled readers with the power of Beauty. Now this extraordinarily gifted novelist retells the story of Beauty and the Beast again—but in a totally new way, with fresh perspective, ingenuity, and mature insight.
Beauty and the Beast is by far my favorite fairytale of all time. I freely confess that I am completely enchanted by the power this tale wields, and I think in today's day and age, it is so much more relevant in a world where beauty and looks are so powerful. Beauty and the Beast reminds us that in the end, all else falls away, except for the power of pure love.
I had previously read Robin McKinley's other retelling of Beauty and the Beast called Beauty, and I was extremely pleased with that book. I actually found it quite odd that an author would revisit a past subject, but then I thought, for a fairytale like BatB, I can completely understand.
First of all, the prose of this novel... wow. Completely infused with the magic that surrounds the story. The scenery is just so lush and breathtaking. Every detail seems like it is right in front of you, just waiting for you to reach out and touch it. I very much enjoyed how much Robin McKinley focused on the roses in this story. Not only are they an integral part of the plot, they are beautiful, both in what they represent and how they are described.
The only down side I noticed about this wonderful prose was that at times it did drag just a bit, and felt a little too over-"padded" at some points. But this was only a minor and rare occurance.
I really enjoyed how Robin McKinley used many of the details of the original fairytale in this new retelling. It just made her retelling all the more powerful and viable to the reader. And it made the twists in her plot all the more refreshing and unique.
I think my favorite part of the book was the ending. All I will tell you is that it is definitely not your typical BatB ending, and I found it so much more powerful. Beauty's love for the Beast is really put to the test in the end, and how she proves herself is just beautiful.
The characters were all well written, and all had something special to add to the story, which I love. The only thing I could have maybe asked to be different was for Ms. McKinley to have given Beauty just a little bit more... spirit, I guess. I don't know, maybe this is just me comparing this book too much to the Disney movie.
All in all, this was an excellent read. Robin McKinley took the most powerful fairytale of all time and turned it into something new, refreshing, and most importantly, beautiful.