Beauty: A (Classic!) Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Beauty by Robin McKinleyIt has been many years since Beauty liked her nickname. It is better than Honour, to be sure. And better, at this point, to keep it than to admit the folly of such a nickname. But she knows far too well that she is no beauty. Not really and certainly not compared to her sisters. She is thin and awkward and short.

No one quite believes it when their father returns home with tales or an enchanted house in the woods and a Beast who lives there. They don’t even want to consider the bargain their father was forced to strike.

She may not be pretty but Beauty is smart. She is kind, just like her sisters. And, when it comes time to make a dangerous choice, she is brave in Beauty (1978) by Robin McKinley.

Beauty is the first book in a trilogy of companion novels by McKinley that retell popular folktales. Beauty is a retelling of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” Originally published in 1978, this novel is also strikingly close to Disney’s classic animated version of the story.

Beauty is a pragmatic narrator who does not tolerate nonsense and values books and intelligence above almost everything else. Beauty’s narration is thoughtful and brisk as the story moves along. Beauty is appropriately introspective as Beauty makes sense of her new surroundings and begins to unravel some of the Beast’s secrets.

This novel is filled with a level of thought and detail typical to one of McKinley’s books. The settings are vibrant and evocative. The characters are vivid and authentic. Even with so much description and exposition, Beauty is an engrossing read.

Beauty is a must-read for fans of fairy tale retellings and fantasy readers alike. Also ideal for readers who prefer smart heroines and romances with a slow burn.

Possible Pairings: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevemer, Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

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