So you may notice that I recently read another retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The reason why I chose to read this one right away is because one of the reviews for the K.M. Shea version left a comment about how her version couldn’t compare to the Robin Mckinley version. I think that is way too strong a statement and I think this person is over fond of the Robin Mckinley version because it is from her childhood. I liked both versions very much. K.M. Shea has a very different take on the story and it is well written and refreshing. I loved the vivid depictions in the Robin Mckinley version.
Beauty lives with her father and two sisters. Beauty’s real name is Honour, but has long gone by Beauty although she notes throughout the book how she is not beautiful like her sisters. Her sister Grace is engaged to be married to a man who works for her father in their shipping business. The business goes on hard times and the family is forced to moved far away and build a new life. The other sister Hope finds a man to marry as well during all of this. Their father makes a trip and on the way back gets lost in the enchanted forest. It is during this time that a deal is struck with the beast in the castle in the enchanted forest. Either the father but die or he must bring one of his daughters to live in the castle. Beauty is chosen and like the story goes she must see past the outward appearance of the beast.
I loved everything about this story except the falling in love portion. Beauty, although always saying she is not beautiful, still considers herself far above the beast. She makes a very sudden realization that she loves the beast although prior to that she was adamant about keeping her distance even to the point of running away and appearing quite disgusted when she wakes up in the beast’s arms after fainting. He is always very gracious and patient with her but I found little in her character to warrant such patience. At the very end when the spell is undone, it all happens too fast. He changes back, she wants her beast, but quickly sees he is the beast, but thinks she isn’t beautiful enough, he assures her she is and they go out to meet her family. There should have been more substance to this part. It is the climax and yet it is as though once the spell is broken we must end the story ASAP. No declarations of love, just look how richly dressed your family is as they come to our wedding. It also doesn’t discuss the significance of the week. The beast lets Beauty go for a week and if she doesn’t return he shall die. Why???