FAVORITE FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS ~ BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

In honor of the highly anticipated, live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I thought it'd be fun to compile a list of my most favorite retellings of my most favorite fairytale! I love it so much...after all that, it was the theme of my wedding! ;P I feel like I've read almost every version possible (although I know I haven't), and read the original over and over. I like to think I'm somewhat of a pro in the world of Beauty and the Beast - the story just means so much to me. The following goes in no particular order!


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As Old As Time

"What if Belle's mother cursed the Beast? Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father's reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle's mother returns—a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern. But Belle touches the Beast's enchanted rose, compelling images flood her mind—images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making."

This came out last September and immediately became my most favorite retelling of BATB ever. It tells the "other side" of the Disney animated version, such as who the enchantress was, who Belle's mother was, and how they came to be in the small provincial town. It also talks about the King, Queen, and the Beast's life before the curse, why no one remembers the castle or the rulers, why Gaston is the way he is, and who the heck Monsieur D'Arque really is. While the ending doesn't align with how the movie ends, it adds another element to the familiar story that so many of us grew up on. It's delicious and immersive and everything I never knew I needed to know about the disney animated Beauty and the Beast!



Beauty

"A strange imprisonment...Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage. When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, 'Cannot a Beast be tamed?'"

This was actually my favorite version ever before "As Old As Time" came out. It was the very first retelling I read many years ago, and one of the few books I've reread so many times that the book is falling apart! Robin McKinley is a fantasy writer, so she's able to immediately pull you into the world of Beauty and the Beast And the best part is, it follows so closely to the original version while adding more details to create a full story. It will always hold a special place in my heart!


Beauty And The Beast

"Belle has dreamt of adventures like the ones she reads in her books, of traveling the world outside her small town. When Belle's father is captured, she takes his place as a prisoner of a fearsome Beast. But life in the enchanted castle isn't as terrible as Belle imagines, and she ultimately finds friendship and love. Enjoy this tale as old as time about adventure and love, about looking past first appearances, and about the inner Beauty and Beast in all of us."

This is the novelization of the Disney live action film, so it follows the movie storyline exactly. It definitely has direct references to the Disney animated film, while adding the updated parts of the new movie too. I like how the added to LeFou's story and what happens to him during/after the castle siege! It was fun getting a chance to see how they brought new life to the version of BATB that we're most familiar with while giving us an excellent addition in the form of the live action story. I aways love picking up the novelizations of Disney's live action fairytales.


Beauty And The Beast: Lost In A Book

"An original addition to the beloved Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, Lost in a Book follows the lonely, bookish Belle as she finds an enchanted book in the Beast’s library called Nevermore that carries her into a glittering new world. There, Belle is befriended by a mysterious countess who offers her the life she’s always dreamed of. But Nevermore is not what it seems, and the more time Belle spends there, the harder it is to leave. Good stories take hold of us and never let us go, and once Belle becomes lost in this book, she may never find her way out again."


This is on my To Be Read list, so I actually can't speak on what it adds to the realm of retellings, but I'm excited and intrigued by the basis of the novel. I can't wait to - in Belle's case, quite literally - dive in! I like that it's a companion book to the upcoming movie. I will have to share after I read it. :)


Beauty And The Beast: Belle's Library

"Disney's Belle is one of the best fictional bookworms around. But what exactly is on her reading list? In this unique literary journal, enjoy inspiring quotes from some of Belle's favorite books, as well as her insightful notes and colorful drawings."

This is a quick, quirky read in the world of Beauty and the Beast. It's essentially Belle's journal, where she records the passages that mean the most to her from her favorite books. She also includes notations on why she chose what she chose and what it means to her. It also has an appendix that talks about the books she quotes and gives the history of the stories - it's kind of cool!



Rose Daughter

"It is the heart of this place, and it is dying, says the Beast. And it is true; the center of the Beast's palace, the glittering glasshouse that brings Beauty both comfort and delight in her strange new environment, is filled with leafless brown rosebushes. But deep within this enchanted world, new life, at once subtle and strong, is about to awaken. Twenty years ago, Robin McKinley dazzled readers with the power of her novel Beauty. Now this extraordinarily gifted novelist returns to the story of Beauty and the Beast with a fresh perspective, ingenuity, and mature insight. With Rose Daughter, she presents her finest and most deeply felt work--a compelling, richly imagined, and haunting exploration of the transformative power of love."


Robin McKinley actually wrote two versions of the Beauty and the Beast story. They're kind of similar to each other, but she wrote them years apart, so she obviously made changes to her original version (Beauty) as she saw a different way to tell it. It's not often that you get to read the same story by the same author written a different way, so it was a neat experience. Rose Daughter didn't leave quite the same impression on me that beauty did, but I still loved it all the same - and it's totally worth reading if not for the simple fact that she retold the fairytale twice!



Belle

"Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.  During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood - and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart."

This was an entertaining retelling that in some ways, followed the original storyline and in others, was an entirely different take. I've read this version a few times because it's one of the Once Upon A Time series more popular stories (there are dozens of them in the series, written by a few different authors). It's a worthy addition to the retelling world.




The Beast Within

"A cursed prince sits alone in a secluded castle. Few have seen him, but those who claim they have said his hair is wild and nails are sharp--like a beast's! But how did this prince, once jovial and beloved by the people, come to be a reclusive and bitter monster? And is it possible that he can ever find true love and break the curse that has been placed upon him?"

This is actually my least favorite version...ever. I've included it however because I did read it and it was an "officially" released story by Disney. It's supposed to be the story of the Beast before the curse and leading up to when it happens. Sounds awesome, right? There is so much potential in creating that world, especially when Disney is backing you up! But it's honestly so poorly written, and the names the author chose aren't even believable to the world that BATB exists in. I was so disappointed - which doesn't often happen for me with retellings because I accept that a retelling is that person's vision and view of the world that we all know...so I typically don't get upset or offended by changes. But this one made me feel all those things!


Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

"'Blessed' or 'cursed' with an ability to understand animals, the Lass (as she's known to her family) has always been an oddball. And when an isbjorn (polar bear) seeks her out and promises that her family will become rich if only the Lass accompanies him to his castle, she doesn't hesitate. But the bear is not what he seems, nor is his castle, which is made of ice and inhabited by a silent staff of servants. Only a grueling journey on the backs of the four winds will reveal the truth: the bear is really a prince who's been enchanted by a troll queen, and the Lass must come up with a way to free him before he's forced to marry a troll princess."

This is actually a retelling of the Norwegian version of Beauty and the Beast, called East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It is SO BEAUTIFUL and very easily right at the top of my list of all time favorites. The author has a great line of fairytale retelling novels (including my other favorite - The Twelve Dancing Princesses). The idea can be loosely interpreted about a girl who volunteers to go to an ice castle far in the north in exchange for her family. The castle is enchanted, and the polar bear is/was the Prince. Every night when she goes to bed, someone joins her and sleeps next to her - but she promised she wouldn't look (the only stipulation). If she can last so long, the spell will be broken, but on the final night, she looks to see who joins her in bed and...I won't share anymore because it's too good of a story to spoil. :)



East

"Rose has always been different. Since the day she was born, it was evident she had an unusual fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose's birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home... but she can't suppress Rose's true nature forever. So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it-- in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family - she readily agrees. Rose travels on the bear's broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart, and finds her purpose, and realizes her journey has only just begun."

Here is another retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon. This one takes more liberty in changing some parts of the original story, but it is still just as immersive and beautiful. It's hard to find East of the Sun, West of the Moon retellings, so I eagerly search for any and all that I can find to add to my collection. I never knew I needed BATB in such a different way before! ;P


Ice

"When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe. Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride. That is the beginning of Cassie's own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice."

Yet another East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling. This one is a bit odd because the first half is in modern time and involves a science-y girl at a research station in the Arctic. The second half becomes the fairytale. It's a weird dichotomy at first, but also allows for the girl to be developed as a strong, freestanding heroine by "our standards." However, the best thing about BATB has always been the strength and bravery of main female character. All versions of them always make the choice themselves to go to the enchanted castle, and they're always the ones to break the spell and save the prince.

What is the best retelling (book, movie, what have you) that you've come across? I'm always on the lookout for a new way to dive into the world of Beauty and the Beast!

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