Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast


Online Discussion

Horn Book honor list citation (1978)
NY Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age citation (1980, 1981, 1982)


"Beauty is the most delightful first novel I've read in years, and astonishingly skillful. Robin McKinley never slips up once. The writing is absolutely surehanded, and the characterization never falters for a moment. I was moved and enchanted by the book. I didn't want it to end. Both as a writer and reader, I can't wait to see what Robin McKinley does next. This first one is a marvel."
Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn.

"A full-fledged fantasy novel.... I was immediately captured.... Beauty is a wonderful book."
Issac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

"[McKinley retains the magic; indeed she adds to it in the description of the enchanted castle... Beauty's first person narration presents her world vividly and lyrically."
Marilyn H. Karrenbrock, Dictionary of Literary Biography



(From the jacket of the Harper and Row hardcover edition, 1978)

A young woman, well educated and honourable, accepts the responsibility for her father's act and leaves her family to enter the enchanted world of castle and Beast. The Beast she finds is not the one she imagined, but can she stay with him?

A gifted storyteller embellishes the classic tale, developing a new and very real world of her own in a love story that has all the wonder and magic of the fairy tale.

Like all of the other doors I had met in the castle, this one opened at my approach. The room it revealed was a large, warm, and gracious one. On one wall to my left a fire was burning in a fireplace; two armchairs were drawn up before it. One chair was empty. In the other a massive shadow sat. I caught a gleam of dark-green velvet on what might have been a knee in the shadowed armchair.

"Good evening, Beauty," said a great harsh voice.

(From the back of the 1985 Pocket Books paperback)

When Beauty arrives at the castle, enchantment surrounds her. Meals are served by unseen hands, her clothes appear as if by magic, and in the ancient halls, voices murmur of a mysterious future. To soothe her loneliness, she befriends the Beast, a gentle creature cursed with a man's soul. Then, in a transcendent moment, Beauty discovers the final test of love . . .

"Good evening, Beauty," said a great harsh voice.

He straightened himself slowly, but I shrank back. He must have been seven feet tall at full height, with proportionate breadth of shoulder and chest, like the great black bears of the north woods. With a sigh as deep as a storm wind, he raised the candelabrum from the table. It lit as he brought it to shoulder level, and I was staring suddenly into his face. "Oh no," I cried. When I heard him take a step toward me, I leaped back in alarm.

"You have nothing to fear," the Beast said, as gently as his harsh voice allowed.

He was standing, watching me with those eyes. I realized that what made his gaze so awful was that his eyes were human.


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