This is my absolute favorite fairytale. Beauty is brave, loyal, and usually portrayed as a book-lover. The Beast is a wonderful portrayal of character change. Plus, they don’t fall in love at first sight!
Being the obsessive person I am, I of course have numerous retellings of Beauty and the Beast on my shelves, in both book and movie form. To keep this post from becoming a beast itself, I’m going to rate the retellings according to their closeness to the original story and how much I like them.
In case you are only familiar with the Disney version, here is a very quick rundown of the basic plot. Beauty is the youngest of three daughters of a prosperous merchant, her two sisters jealous of her beauty and kindness. The merchant, who loved his daughters, especially Beauty, lost all his money, forcing his family to leave the city and take up farming. Months later, news came one of his ships survived, so he sets out, hoping to be rich again. The two older sisters ask for dresses and jewelry, Beauty for only his safe return and a rose. The merchant returns to the city only to learn there is nothing left so he goes back home, poor as before. He gets lost on the way back and finds himself at a castle where all his needs are met. Upon leaving, he plucks a rose, inciting the wrath of the Beast, forced to choose between being dying or giving up one of his daughters. When he goes home to say goodbye, Beauty takes his place. The castle is magic, the Beast turns kind, but every night asks her to marry him and every night she says no. Finally she can no longer stand the loneliness and asks to visit her family. He agrees, but only for a week, or he will die. She goes home, but her sisters trick her into staying an extra day. When she returns, she finds the dying beast and confesses her love to him. This breaks the spell and they live happily ever after.
Whew! I’ll try not to go overboard with the rest of this post, but I do so love this story! The first rating is how close it is to the story; the higher ratings are retellings of the story, lower ones use the story as just a base. The second rating is how well I liked the book.
Beauty by Robin McKinley
4/5 and 5/5
Easy to read with a Beauty who hates her nickname and loves her horse. Two invisible servants tend to her, and the Beast and her spend days reading and walking together. As her feelings towards the Beast change, so does the castle, slowly stirring to life.
Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
4/5 and 5/5
A more serious tone than her other book, this Beauty loves roses and strives to save the Beast’s roses while trying to unravel the mystery of the Beast and a castle that changes around her.
Belle by Cameron Dokey
3/5 and 4/5
When Belle stands next to her sisters, she is lost when compared to their extreme beauty. She loves to carve wood and longs to find the Heartwood Tree, which would reveal her true love. When events take her to the Beasts castle, there is the Tree and he asks her to carve for him, but it is not as easy as it seems.
Beastly by Alex Flinn
2/5 and 4/5
Told from the point of view of a modern day beast, this is a very different take on the story. Kyle was arrogant, spoiled, and cruel, so a girl in his high school curses him to live as a beast for three years. IF he can get a girl to kiss him, the spell would be broken. After trying to trick his girlfriend, then scanning for girls online, he manages to force Lindy to live with him. As he tries to make her fall for him, he finds himself changing in fundamental ways. There is also a movie of this, pretty good.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
2/5 and 2/5
Nyx has been trained to kill the man who would become her husband and free her people from his curse. But he isn’t like she had been told. Charming, kind, and seemingly enthralled with her, Nyx has to choose between her people and her love.
Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
2/5 and 5/5
Caitrin is on the run from an abusive home and finds herself in Whistling Tor, a place of ghosts and fear. The ruler of the ghost horde is Anluan, a man with a crippled body and soul. He gives Caitrin a home and a job as a scribe, but the trapped ghosts ask her to search for a way to save them. An ancient curse, a new enemy marching towards them, and a traitor all work against her as she tries to save the tortured souls, including Anluan’s.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Mass
1/5 and 1/5
I don’t usually include books I don’t like, but it seems most people do like this series, so I’m including it. Feyre’s family is starving, so when she sees a chance to kill a wolf, she takes it, only to find it was a Faerie. The Faerie’s master, Tamlin, a masked Faerie, demands her imprisonment for the wolf’s life and she goes to save her family. Once in his home, she searches for a way to escape and instead learns of the curse on Tamlin and his people, and of the terrible ruler who threatens not only Faeries, but humans as well. I liked this book until the end. Hated the end. Found out it was a series. Ticked off Bri will not be reading the rest.
La Belle et la Bete
4/5 and 4/5
Belle loves her new life in the country, but sacrifices herself to save her father from the Beast. This movie is visually stunning, especially the rose covered castle. I don’t really like the reason the Beast was cursed, but it works, and the ending is perfect. It is in French, so gotta use subtitles.
Beauty and the Beast: A Dark Tale
2/5 and 4/5
This is NOT for the faint of heart, lots of sci-fi gore. Belle is saved from wolves by a deformed hunter, but there is something worse killing people, a troll controlled by an evil sorceress. Belle and Beast join forces to stop it and find out who the Beast really is.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (cartoon)
3/5 and 5/5
Most people know this one, but if you’ve never seen it, it’s a treat! Belle doesn’t fit in with her town and worse, is being wooed by the narcissistic Gaston. When she is imprisoned by the Beast, she finds herself in an enchanted castle-with an immense library-and a Beast she is increasingly charmed by.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2017)
3/5 and 5/5
SO GOOD!! I know most people haven’t seen this yet, including Mez, so I will try not to give away spoilers. The plot is extremely close to the cartoon, but the beginning is weird. Like so weird my heart sank and I was thinking I was going to be disappointed, but fortunately I was not. It was beautiful and perfect. On a cautionary note, if you have sensitive kid, might want to watch it first. The knife scene, at the end? Yeah, times that by like ten. I was a little startled, but the kids next to me didn’t seem to care, so maybe I’m making too much of it. They had a great time dancing to every song. And the songs were amazing, new and old. The ‘Be Our Guest’ scene was incredible, had me smiling the whole time. And Emma Watson was a perfect Belle!
So those are the ones on my shelves (or will be), but there are also lots of good versions on YouTube (and some not so good versions). One of my favorites is in German, though the subtitles are awful. There are also two TV shows, and older one (I think like the 60s) and a remake, both very good!
Also, if, like me, Beauty and the Beast is your favorite fairytale, check out East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It’s a Norwegian fairytale that I think was a precursor to the French Beauty and the Beast. The three retellings I love are East by Edith Pattou, Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, and Ice by Sarah Beth Durst.
Okay, this post is definitely starting to grow hair and fangs. If you know of any other Beauty and the Beast retellings, book or movie, or if you’ve seen the new one and want to let me know what you think comment below!!