It would be an understatement to say I’m excited about the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast that came out this past weekend. I was humming “Tale as Old as Time” and “Be Our Guest” all last week.
I realize Belle from the original animated film is not the perfect heroine, but there are so many aspects of her character that I admired as a 4th grader and that I still appreciate now. Belle is a reader, doesn’t settle for the guy everyone thinks she should be with, fiercely loves her dad, isn’t freaked out by talking flatware and furniture… She’s dope! Luckily, there are a bunch of fantastic books inspired by her story out there for you to enjoy.
So, if you’ve seen the new movie and need more Beauty and the Beast in your life, give one of these retellings a read:
Beastly, by Alex Flinn
In this modern retelling, the story is told from the Beast’s point of view. Pre-transformation, the Beast was handsome Kyle Kingsbury, a rich, spoiled teen attending an exclusive Manhattan prep school. After humiliating a girl at the school dance, she turned him into a beast and gave him 2 years to break the spell.
Beastly follows Beauty and the Beast’s original plot pretty closely, but digital-age twists are what really make the book a fun read. The book opens with Kyle participating in the Unexpected Changes online chat group as BeastNYC along with other fairy tale unfortunates such as Froggie (from the Frog Prince) and Silent Maid (from the Little Mermaid). Lots of LOLs in this one!
Beauty, by Robin McKinley
I just finished this one recently and adored it. Beauty is very true to the original story by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. There are a couple tweaks — Beauty is quite plain in this version — but overall, it does not stray far from the traditional tale. McKinley’s poetic descriptions and use of language are absolutely beautiful and allowed me to appreciate the fairytale even more. McKinley recently wrote another Beauty and the Beast retelling called Rose’s Daughter. I haven’t read it yet, but have heard good things.
A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
I loved Sarah J. Mass’ Throne of Glass series, so I had high expectations for this one. A Court of Thorns and Roses is not purely a Beauty and the Beast story, but throws the tale of Tamlin in as well. The protagonist, Feyre, kills a wolf that turns out to be fae and is taken away by a horrible beast to live in faeryland. It turns out the beast is actually, Tamlin, High Lord of the faery’s Spring Court and he and Feyre end up taking a liking to each other. A Court of Thorns and Roses is high fantasy and it gets rather steamy at times, so it might not be for everyone, but I found it to be a very entertaining read.
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
In Uprooted, we’re introduced Agnieszka, a young woman who lives in a village tormented by the nearby evil woods. The Dragon (who turns out to be a wizard named Sarkan) keeps the village safe but takes one maiden every 10 years to be his servant. He chooses Agnieszka and she is locked up in his tower. It’s not all bad though! She finds out she’s a witch and Sarkan teaches her to wield her magic. Together they try and keep the wicked forest at bay. Although Uprooted is not a true retelling, I had to include it because a.) it’s close enough and, more importantly, b.) Agnieszka is such a strong heroine and the more books we read with powerful women in them, the better!
And one bonus recommendation: The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles is a sci-fi/fantasy series that reimagines fairytales in the future. The Beauty and the Beast story isn’t included, but if you’re in the mood for more fairytale retellings, you have to give these books a try. In the series, Cinderella is Cinder, a teenage cyborg; Red Riding Hood is Scarlett, a spaceship pilot; Rapunzel is Cress, a computer hacker; and Snow White is Winter, a princess in love with a commoner. Together they band together to defeat the super evil Queen Levana and try to find happiness. Just try the first book, Cinder, and you’ll want to read them all.
All book cover images from www.amazon.com