A Comprehensive Look at Beauty and the Beast Retellings

25 June, 2015 Reviews 35 comments

BATBAre you a fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings? Are you looking around going, “Where can I read me a little somethin’ somethin’ in the way of retellings?”

Well, that’s where I came in. I read them so that I could definitely bring you the best and worst Beauty and the Beast retellings.

I was like Belle discovering a massive library. So full of possibility and promise and just the slightest hint of bestiality.

There was the good. Then there was the bad. All opinions are my own personal opinions and do not at all reflect upon the blog. Unless you liked them in which case they totally represent Cuddlebuggery and everything we believe in.

Happy reading!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

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When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

four-half-stars

A Court of Thorns and Roses was one of my favourite retellings, bar Cruel Beauty which wins out for sheer enjoyment factor. A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in a new series by Sarah J Maas. It’s a great beginning book and you don’t have to wait several books into the series to see the curse broken but there’s plenty more story to write about once it is, if you know what I mean. Maas has built a complex, magical world of deadly fae and power hungry humans, with Feyre and Tamlin are caught in the middle.

Emotions are wrought, drama and danger are right up there and Maas isn’t afraid to let a little sexy times fly. A perfect, fun, thrilling read for those looking for a Beauty and the Beast retelling that’s just a little bit different.

Also… Rhysand…

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

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Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny. Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him. With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people. But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

five-stars

I don’t know if Cruel Beauty truly deserved five stars on merit but goddamnit I’m awarding it all the points for enjoyability. All of them. I loved the hell out of this story. The passion. The intrigue. Ignifex. Nyx’s rage. Ignifex. All the kissing. Nyx.

This book kind of had it all for me. Plot, mystery, intrigue and a whole lot of making out. It’s almost like Hodge was trying to distract me from the crazy plotholes and loose story structure. It was fantastic! I haven’t been this entertained by a book in ages. I immediately went out and bought a copy (I got mine from the library).

So if you’re into mythology and kissing and just looking for something eminently, page-turningly good, then this is your book.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.” Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

four-half-stars

This was another favourite of mine. Completely different to A Court of Thorns and Roses and Cruel Beauty, Uprooted is more dark and gothic. Unfortunately there is also a lot less kissing. But not to be discouraged. What kissing there is, is very lovely and, more importantly, Uprooted has a solid plot and is paced with ardent fervour. It’s also funny as all hell and sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat type of action-packed. When I started reading it, I really didn’t want to put it down unless forced against my will. Agnieszka is a fantastic character. Witty, strong, loving and heroic. The Dragon is hilariously uptight and poncy. Cue Agnieszka quickly tearing down every expectation and wall he builds up between them and you have an odd couple taking on the most sinister forest you can think of.

It’s brilliant.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

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In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret… In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds. Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

three-stars

Where do I even start with you, Of Beast and Beauty. You had so much going for you. Great heroine, interesting hero. Complex world building. Until that world building started to look like cardboard cutouts and the plot became ridiculous and the romance was uninspiring. I don’t have a lot to say on this one. I know a lot of people who loved it, and I can see why. There’s a lot to love. But even from day 1 it felt hollow to me. Like there was something missing. Something missing from the chemistry between the two heroes. Something missing in the feels department – because the story certainly wasn’t giving me anything.

It just felt blah.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty by Robin McKinley

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When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise – to send one daughter to the Beast’s castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.

three-stars

Now this is the Beauty and the Beast retelling that almost killed me. Almost. If you’ve ever read McKinley before than you’re aware that her characters go on long, unnecessary tangents telling you things you don’t need to know, all in the name of character-building or whatever. Well, this book starts a proper 2.5 years before Beauty ever meets the beast. So a solid half of the novel is backstory about Beauty and her family that WE JUST PLAIN DON’T NEED.

Then, THEN, she has the nerve to wrap everything up in about 20 pages likes it’s no big deal.

Um, Robin McKinley, it needed to be a big deal and that story deserved so much more of an ending.

I’m going to stop now before I fully rant.

Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

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Anluan has been crippled since childhood, part of a curse that has besieged his family and his home of Whistling Tor. But when the young scribe Caitrin is retained to sort through family documents, she brings about unexpected changes in the household, casting a hopeful light against the despairing shadows. But to truly free Anluan’s burdened soul, Caitrin must unravel the web of sorcery woven by his ancestors before it claims his life-and their love…

four-stars

Heart’s Blood is not YA, so be warned if you’re a younger member of our audience. But it has some crossover appeal and the sex is only slightly more graphic than, say, ACOTAR.

What I really loved about this story is Anluan and Caitrin’s relationship. How perfectly they fit together and how much sense they made. Keeping in mind it was a fair while ago that I read it (2010), the story has stayed with me every since as one of my favourite books. Not quite as flashy and showy as it’s younger cousins ACOTAR, Cruel Beauty and Uprooted, but old school and pleasant. Charming. Rustic.

It does, however, require a trigger warning for sexual abuse.

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy
@MagicoMonte I saw. Lol. Looks horrendous! @Sailor_Stephie - 9 hours ago
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35 Responses to “A Comprehensive Look at Beauty and the Beast Retellings”

  1. Kate Copeseeley

    Hint of bestiality. hahahahaha
    First of all, the backstory of Beauty was what made it so great. The book is about HER, not the fairytale, which was the aspect I loved. I agree with you on that ending, though. WAYYYYYY too fast.
    Having read Uprooted, I really don’t consider it a B&B retelling. That is just personal opinion, but it kind of irks me that everyone describes it that way, when… no. Not at all the same. Too different to even allude to the original IMO. But… like I said, it’s just an opinion. haha
    Thank you sooooo much for the Juliet Marillier recommend. I love her writing so much! I’m going to go find this one right now!
    And also, what about Rose Daughter? You should try that one, too. It is really completely different and I think I liked the ending better than Beauty. 🙂
    Kate Copeseeley recently posted…The End of the EndMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      Hi Kate,

      Here is a brief snippet from the publicity email I received from the publisher regarding this book:

      “Naomi drew inspiration from her heritage, basing UPROOTED on an old Polish folk story the likes of Beauty and the Beast that has never been translated into English. With the resurgence of fantastical remakes like Into the Woods and Cinderella, UPROOTED is emerging at the perfect moment to enchant readers.”

      I think it’s unfair to say it’s not a Beauty and the Beast retelling just because it comes from a different cultural heritage when, in essence, it’s a cousin of the same story we’re all familiar with.

      I’m honestly scared to try another Robin McKinley book. Gah. I loved Sunshine, couldn’t finish Shadows and was deeply disappointed with Beauty. Oh well, we’ll see.

      • Kate Copeseeley

        Well there. I have been properly schooled now, haven’t I? hahaha (although my reasoning was not because of the cultural heritage, but the plot)
        I remain unrepentant, as even though I STILL don’t consider it B&B, I unabashedly loved it. It’s going on my hardback list, which is a pretty small list.

        McKinley is a style that you either like or don’t, I think. If Sunshine and Shadows are the only books of hers that you’ve read (besides Beauty) then I’m going to recommend The Blue Sword & The Hero and The Crown. They are really her best work. (Although A Door In The Hedge is pretty damn good, too.)
        Kate Copeseeley recently posted…The End of the EndMy Profile

  2. Vane J.
    Twitter:

    I’ve read the first two you mentioned and I’m currently reading Uprooted. I rated ACOTAR 2 stars, but I LOVED Cruel Beauty. I have Of Beast and Beauty ready to read, and I might try the last one. Great reviews! 😀
    Vane J. recently posted…Review: The Maze RunnerMy Profile

  3. Tiffany / Bookplates for Brunch

    I was JUST thinking about this the other day! I had added Uprooted to my reading list because I knew it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling – I didn’t realize ACOTAR was either, until I had the book in front of me – and I read one right after the other.

    I’m going to check out some of the others you recommended, especially Cruel Beauty. I just really love books inspired by classics – I feel like it gives them an extra layer of depth somehow, because you’re already familiar with the undercurrent of the original story or the characters, and the author is just building on that.
    Tiffany / Bookplates for Brunch recently posted…Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      I completely agree. And it’s fun to see each author’s take on it. So much love. I don’t know. Someone mentions Beauty and the Beast retelling and I am RIGHT there.

  4. La Coccinelle @ The Ladybug Reads...

    I think I enjoyed Robin McKinley’s Beauty, but I read it so many years ago that I can’t quite remember. I know I also tried Rose Daughter, but I couldn’t get into it.

    I read Cat Hellisen’s Beastkeeper earlier this year. It wasn’t a straight retelling, but you can definitely see the influences of the “Beauty and the Beast” story there (and I really enjoyed that book). There’s also Alex Flinn’s Beastly, which is kind of a neat take on the story since it’s told from the beast’s point of view.
    La Coccinelle @ The Ladybug Reads… recently posted…Review – A Handful of StarsMy Profile

  5. Beth W

    That’s a bummer about the McKinnley book! I’m part of the fandom for the 1987 TV show Beauty and the Beast, and I’ve gotten a lot of recommendations from other fans to read her books (that one, Rose Daughter, Spindle’s End, etc). Sounds like it would drive me nuts. 😉

    There’s a lot of BATB-influenced books out there, and few straight retellings (I imagine it’s hard to have a straight retelling, when we already know the story so well). Are you adding to this list as you go? Six books doesn’t scream ‘comprehensive’ to me….pretty sure you can find many, many more. Or are these just the ones you’ve read, personally?
    Beth W recently posted…Eye of the Week: ElfhomeMy Profile

  6. Bec @ Readers in Wonderland

    Of all the fairy tale retellings Beauty and the Beast ones are my favourite. I’ve read all the books you listed except Uprooted and Of Beast and Beauty (SOON). My thoughts on the ones I’ve read seem to be the exact same as yours so it will be interesting to see what I think of the other two.
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday [51]My Profile

  7. Morgan @ Gone with the Words
    Twitter:

    So much fun!!! I love fairy tale retellings and Beauty and the Beast are usually my favorite ones. I still love a good Cinderella too. I loooved Cruel Beauty!!! It was dark and sexy and a little confusing but mostly super awesome. I loved A Court of Thorns and Roses toooo. The BatB touches were great. Gallery instead of library! Uprooted is on my list. That’s too bad about the Robin McKinley book. The only one I’ve read of hers was a Sleeping Beauty retelling that I really enjoyed called Spindle’s End. Awesome post!! Hope you find more books to add 🙂
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Thursday Tracks: Ghost + New Weekly Meme Details!My Profile

  8. Natalie M.
    Twitter:

    I personally thought A Court of Thorns & Roses was better than Cruel Beauty, mostly because of Lucien hahaha. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Uprooted. On my list!

  9. Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm
    Twitter:

    I only recently discovered that I LOVE fairy tale retellings, but I haven’t read any Beauty and the Beast ones yet! This list will come in handy 🙂 I’ve only heard of the first three – although I didn’t realize until reading this post that Uprooted was a Beauty and the Beast retelling! Not sure how I missed that, everyone’s been talking about this book! I can’t wait to read it – I’ve read some of Naomi Novik’s other books and loved them. Thanks for the recs 😀
    Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm recently posted…The Moth in the Mirror (Splintered #1.5) by AG HowardMy Profile

  10. Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales
    Twitter:

    I love fairytale retellings in general, but my favourite out of them is probably Beauty and the Beast retellings. There’s something so magical and wonderful about the renditions of the particular fairytale.

    I still haven’t read ACOTAR! Tbh, I was actually a bit overwhelmed by the hype, even though it was positive, and I think it would take me a lot of time to take up a copy finally.

    Cruel Beauty! I read it a few days ago, and loved it! I adored the world building, the writing and most of all, the characters – as I have a huge soft spot for antiheroic characters who are cruel and unapologetic.

    And I actually loved Of Beast and Beauty! I adore the romance, and the constant conflict throughout the story where we can’t decide who’s the beauty and who’s the beast.

    Thanks for the list, by the way, Kat! You’ve given me some great recommendations.
    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales recently posted…Blogging has changed me a lot as a personMy Profile

  11. Shannelle C.

    I didn’t realize Uprooted was a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I can see how it is a retelling! And I absolutely agree with how hard it was to put it down. I couldn’t stop reading. I think I stayed in an uncomfortable position in a terrible chair for an hour or two because of Uprooted.

    And I was so interested in Of Beast and Beauty! I still hope to check it out someday, but my expectations for it are now much lower.
    Shannelle C. recently posted…Oh Hi, JulyMy Profile

  12. Carina Olsen
    Twitter:

    Stuuunning reviews Kat. <3 I'm so thrilled you mostly enjoyed all of these Beauty and the Best retellings 😀 I have only read two of them; but I also really loved Cruel Beauty 🙂 It was awesome. And I also loved the romance. <3 But oh, I hated Uprooted 🙁 And everyone is loving it, and it hurts my heart, lol. Planning on reading ACOTAR sometime, but so worried, as I have heard so many negative things :p But thrilled that you loved it 😀 Thank you for sharing your thoughts sweetie. <3
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