A strange imprisonment…
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 looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with the 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 go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
Robin McKinley’s beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple, Beauty and the Beast.
I love a good Beauty and the Beast retelling. When the live-action movie came out in March, this was one of the retellings that was suggested, if you’re a fan of BATB. When I came upon the audiobook in my libraries app, and being as I had to wait for the next book in the series I was currently listening to, I decided to give this one a shot.
My initial thoughts centered around one word when I finished the book: disappointment. People built this book up! Maybe not people that I knew personally, but in reviews online and in articles. Then I listened to it, and other than an intriguing narrator, I didn’t like it that much. McKinley focused on Beauty – though her given name was Honor – as a character before the Beast. She built up her personality and tough exterior; but with that also came a self deprecating character that thought her nickname ironic. Frankly, her self-hatred and evasiveness toward mirrors irritated me. I liked Beauty – except for that! I get it. You think you’re ugly. Can we move past this? Can we focus on how honorable (pun unavoidable) you are? What about how wonderful you are with your sisters?
When it finally got to the part of the story everyone knows, it didn’t even take up half of the story. I get that she wanted to build Beauty as a character, to give her a story outside that of the beast, but she was only fifteen when the story began. She doesn’t meet the beast until she’s eighteen. Three years and nothing truly exciting happens? I guess exciting is a relative term, but still! I wanted something beside the talk of how they were rebuilding after their wealth literally disappeared at sea.
There were good things about this story. I liked McKinley’s voice. Even though the story didn’t have a lot happening, I got lost in it. It probably doesn’t make sense, but I had a love/hate relationship with the backstory. I enjoyed learning it but ended up inside of Beauty’s head and listening to what happened to her through her head. Another bright side of this book, it was a fast and quick read. So, if you enjoy BATB retellings, I wouldn’t discount this one, but don’t count on it being your favorite.