Beauty is actually the chronological first of Robin McKinley’s retellings of Beauty and the Beast. It was first published in 1978, but had been out of print until recently, meaning it was the second version of hers I read.
Robin McKinley is probably my favorite author at current. I love fairy tales, and I especially love anyone who can put new and interesting spins on them (something Ms McKinley has rather a lot of experience with.) This book in a lot of ways was exactly what I expected, a very solidly-written piece. Comfortable enough to be familiar, novel enough to be interesting.
There’s not really a bad here. Beauty was her first book, and it shows at several points throughout the narrative. There are hints of the writer she will become, but for the main, it’s a very standard retelling of an old familiar story. It’s neither as dark, nor as magical as her later stories get. My main complaint was in the pacing. The first half of the book was taken up entirely by the story of Beauty, her father and sisters, and her life in the country. The main focus of the book, Beauty and the Beast, only had half the book to really bloom.
The Bottom Line
Robin McKinley remains one of my favorite authors. Beauty and the Beast remains one of my favorite fairy tales. Both of these work in the favor of this book. I don’t consider the money I spent on it wasted, though it is by far less enjoyable a read, to me, than her others. 3/5.