Saturday, April 7, 2012

Beauty by Robin McKinley

A retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast.

Where to start? It isn’t often one stumbles upon such a wonderful book! From the technical to the mundane, this book delivers! And to think I could have so easily missed out! I found this book in an antique store. I always check out the books, but I almost skipped over this small knot of books in favor of going back out the truck to wallow in my back pain misery in peace. I’m glad I toughed it out just a little longer.

One thing I like about older books is that the authors don’t seem to have dumbed down their writing for an almost illiterate audience. Released in 1978, this book impresses with it’s varied vocabulary and use of beautifully complex sentences. It is refreshing to come across a writer who actually knows proper grammar and usage! This book was an absolute joy to read. The vocabulary and sentence structure drew me in and wrapped me up in the story, completely obliterating the memory of all the other books that fail so miserably in this area.

And the story itself was very well told. Obviously, this being a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale, I knew what to expect. I knew where the story was headed and had a fairly good idea of the stops along the way. Despite that, the story drew me in and simply captivated me. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the story the author added. Although some of the story was the author’s original spin on the tale, those parts fit seamlessly and truly added so much to the story itself. Frankly, I would use this book as an introduction to the Beauty and the Beast tale if I had to introduce this story to someone who had never encountered the story of Beauty and the Beast.

Even the characters were wonderful. The characters in the book stayed true to the characters in the original tale, however the author imbued them with such deep personality! Even the author’s original characters didn’t disappoint. Sometimes in a book like this it is easy for the author’s characters to pale in comparison to the well known characters of the tale. Not in this case. The author took care to round out and build up the new characters until they had the same substance and appeal as those that had been in the tale all along.

Don’t miss this book! And don’t do yourself the disservice of thinking that a retelling of a fairy tale can’t really be all that great. This book has easily been one of the best books I’ve read in years. I can’t begin to praise this book enough. From its originality (yes, even a retelling of a classic tale can be original!) to its technical prowess, this book delivers on all levels. And unlike some retellings of fairy tales (ala A.N. Roquelaure's, aka Anna Rice's, disgusting Sleeping Beauty trilogy) this retelling of Beauty and the Beast is completely safe for older teens and adults alike.

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