My Top 5 Versions of Beauty and the Beast

As I’m looking forward to the new Disney live action version of Beauty and the Beast (early reviews are vaguely positive), I recall the first time I read a Beauty and the Beast story: in elementary school, one of our Reading textbooks had among its folk tales a telling of the traditional French story, complete with illustrations and a pretty page border.

Since then, I’ve developed a great love of fairy tales and have seen and read many version of Beauty and the Beast.  Here are some of my favorites.

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Once Upon a Time (S1 Ep12 “Skin Deep”)

It’s been a few years since I watched Once Upon a Time, but the first season is particularly enjoyable, and BatB is one of the key fairy tales introduced.  Emilie de Ravin is a charming Belle, and they added some nice twists to the tale (Rumplestilksin is the Beast, and Belle becomes the town librarian) while keeping some nods to the Disney animated movie (Belle’s dresses, the chipped teacup).

Beastly by Alex Flinn

T544891his YA novel updates the BatB story to modern times and also follows the Beast’s perspective.  Kyle Kingsbury is cute, popular, and rich…until he manages to insult a real, live witch at his high school, who turns him into a beast.  His famous father stashes him in a NYC townhouse with only a housekeeper and a blind tutor (plus a chat room for other magically transformed teenagers) for company. Our Belle here is the bookish Lindy, which is short for Linda, the Spanish word for “pretty.”

I gave this book a 4/5 when I first reviewed it.  It’s not my favorite YA fantasy by a long shot, but Kyle is a compelling narrator and it’s a nice urban update on the tale.

Masque by W.R. Gingell

I just re-read this book again recently; it was one of my great 29481285finds of 2016.  The BatB story is nestled inside a murder mystery filled with magic and intrigue.  Lady Isabella “Belle” Farrah is one of my favorite protagonists of all time.  She has such quick wit and emotional control, yet still manages to grow over the course of the book.

This book will appeal to fans of historical romance, fantasy, mystery, or even steampunk genres.  There’s so much to love!  Check out my original review here, or you can pick it up for cheap on Kindle on Amazon.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

8084This is a classic fairy tale novelization and was key in my (and I’m sure many other’s) love of the genre.  It’s a very traditional, novel-length telling, and pretty much a YA book before YA was a genre.  There’s no surprises here, just a great story with lovely writing.

Beauty is currently available as part of a $15 Humble Bundle of  “Women Of Science Fiction and Fantasy.” 

McKinley decided to revisited BatB twenty years later with Rose Daughter, which is a more daring, quirky take.  I like it a lot, too, but it’s not quite the classic that Beauty is.

 

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

This movie came out when I was about five years old; consequently it was one of the first Disney movies I saw, and it has remained a favorite throughout the years.  The opening sequence contains some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen.  And the songs!  I can still sing them all.  It stands tall as part of the Disney Renaissance, and was even the first animated movie to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Image result for beauty and the beast 1991
I picked this movie poster for an image because we used to have a giant puzzle of it.

 

What’s your favorite version of Beauty and the Beast?

Book Review: Masque by WR Gingell

A few weeks ago I had a sudden desire to read a Beauty and the Beast story (and that was even before the teaser for Disney’s live-action movie dropped!).  So I checked out Beauty by Robin McKinley from the library—it’s a classic, and I haven’t read it in about ten years.

Then I went searching on Amazon for more.  I went to the Kindle store, searched for “Beauty and the Beast,” set the sorting on “Price: Low to High,” and scanned through the free ebooks for anything that looked interesting.  I was scrolling past the covers with shirtless dudes on them when I found an interesting blurb for a fantasy book with a good number of five-star reviews.

And thus, in that strange way, I discovered Masque, which is quite possibly my favorite book I’ve read this year.  It’s given me such a book hangover; I’ve read it twice and haven’t been able to read anything else since.

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Lady Isabella Farrah, daughter of the Ambassador to Glause, has had a nasty shock: one of her oldest friends has been gruesomely murdered in the middle of the Ambassadorial Ball.  Belle is determined to find the murderer, no matter the danger, but the pesky Commander of the Watch, Lord Pecus, seems to think that this is his investigation…and he also seems to think that Belle has some part in breaking his hereditary curse.

Have you ever had the feeling that the characters (and consequently the author) of a book are more clever than you?  For me, this is a treasured find!  Belle is a gem of a protagonist; witty and take-charge, she is a strong female character that doesn’t have to punch anybody.  She reads people like a book, and takes her fashion as seriously as her diplomacy.  I felt like she was always one half-step ahead of me throughout the story, and it was so much fun.

Though the Beauty and the Beast tale is at the heart of this story, it’s transformed into so much more.  It’s primarily a suspenseful mystery, with some action, intrigue, and subtle romance, all in vaguely steampunk setting with magic; it further manages to flirt with the idea of being a novel of manners, Jane Austen-style.  The fairy tale’s story elements don’t really kick in until about halfway through, and even then I forgot about them half the time (which is hilarious considering that’s why I wanted to read the story in the first place).

Our Beast is Lord Pecus,whose name somehow calls to mind both pectoral muscles and the peccary, and who has the distinction of being one of the few people who can occasionally out-think Belle.  Their relationship grows nicely, and deftly avoids some of the more “problematic” aspects of the traditional tale.

The cast of characters is rounded out nicely by several of Belle’s entertaining friends, her equally bad-ass sister Susan, some charming Horselords, a cute Watchman, a magic book that functions like Google, and two ragamuffin children in Belle’s employ who are skilled at both magic and causing trouble.  Some of the bad guys are nuanced, and some are not, but all of them work in the story.

One last odd note: this book reminded me of Seraphina, which is high praise as that book is one of my favorite YA fantasy stories of all time.  At first I wasn’t sure why, but then I kept thinking of more things they have in common: murder mystery, little tech devices, liberal use of words like “perspicacious.”

In any case, the writing is clever and witty, the story and characters are wonderful, and I will be enjoying the book for years to come.

Tl;dr You need to read this book now and it’s currently free for Kindle.

5 / 5 stars