Book Review: Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty - Robin McKinley

The Basics


Beauty lives with her two sisters, her brother-in-law, and her father in the country. One night her father stumbles into the wrong place, makes a bad move, and ends up in a deal with a Beast for his life. Beauty being more her actual namesake, Honor, takes her father’s place at the Beast’s castle. Yada, yada, you probably know the rest.


My Thoughts


The subtitle for this book is “a retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast”. Well, get that out of your head right now. Because it isn’t a retelling. It’s just a telling. This is the same story you’ve heard before with some very minor tweaks that do not, in my opinion, warrant the label of “retelling”. It was so much merely a longer version of the story I’d heard my whole life that I found myself intensely bored by it. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale among many I love, so that should emphasize how much I love it. But I know the story. When I see “retelling”, that’s what I expect.


This is a short book, but it took half of it to finally get Beauty in with the Beast. By the time she’s in his presence, and it’s been built up as the crux of the story, it stagnates. Beauty is herself a bore, so then I suppose she and the Beast are perfect for each other, because their interaction is not stimulating at all. Especially not when Beauty seems more concerned with her horse and describing dresses and furniture for most of the book. Speaking of, pet peeve here, but she goes to the trouble of mentioning everything about the castle that could possibly be mentioned, then never once describes the Beast in a way that gives a good impression of how he looks. That felt entirely backwards.


Can you tell I didn’t care for this? I went in too excited maybe, because this wasn’t even close to what I hoped for. There was no spark in this legendary romance. Nothing of interest to keep me reading beyond my own, stubborn insistence on finishing a book no matter what. I intend to try McKinley again but with a lot more trepidation.


Final Rating