Are 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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.
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.
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.
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
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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.
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
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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…
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.