Beauty and the Beast Retellings

An illiterate Beauty? A booty-licious Beast? Authors have used, reused, subverted, inverted and messed with this classic fairytale in every way possible that I’m surprised something new manages to come out every year.

Regardless of the setting or form, I find three elements to be the same in any retelling:

  1. The Beauty will be required (by choice or by force) to stay at the Beast’s home for an extended period of time.
  2. The Beast’s facade (whether it is a curse that makes the beast monstrous or a very undesirable reputation) will always be present in every retelling as an obstacle between the two characters
  3. A transformation needs to happen in order to achieve the happy ending. Transformation could be physical such as the beast being freed from the curse or internal such as the character gaining a more positive worldview. Note that in modern retellings, the transformation could happen to either the Beast, Beauty or both

With the following selections, you’ll find that the beast doesn’t have to be a gentleman (read: the original fairytale) or be ugly, and the beauty doesn’t have to be Helen of Troy or Mary Sue. In fact, who’s to someone from making the Beast a girl and the Beauty a guy?

Click on the Book Title to a link to the book’s amazon page

PG13 SUITABLE TITLES

1. Beauty by Robin McKinley

Status: Finished. It is a Standalone Novel

The more traditional Beauty and The Beast story from Beauty’s (aka Honour, cause that’s her real name in the story) point of view. If you are more of a stickler to the “original,” I think this book will be the one to read

 

2. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Status: Finished. It is a Standalone Novel

Aptly named because Nyx (the resident Beauty) is bitter and hate-filled enough to attempt slaying the Beast (who’s actually good-looking). Fans of darker retellings might enjoy this title not only due to Nyx. But also due to the resident Beast who’s done plenty of morally questionable acts prior to the start of the story.

 

3. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen

Status: Finished. First of a Trilogy. All Three Books are out

This book stands out from the others because the Beauty gets kidnapped instead of being given the choice to go to the Beast. Don’t worry. The Beast has nothing to do with it. Cecille (the Beauty) is abducted by a greedy, good-for-nothing in exchange for gold provided by the Troll King. The Trolls (don’t worry, they’re beautiful creatures that seem to be more Fae than Troll) have been cursed. And prophecy states that Cecille’s marriage to the Troll Prince will be the key to end the curse. Definitely a shade lighter that Cruel Beauty . If you just finished Robin McKinley’s Beauty but still looking for more BATB retellings, then I think you should start with this first

If you liked the first book, you might want to read the rest of the series:

 

4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Status: Finished. First of a Duology. Both books are out

Technically, this is a retelling of Scheherazade of 1001 Nights fame (aka the King marries and kills a wife every night until Scheherazade, who survives by telling him a story and ending it at a cliffhanger to get the King to spare her another night). However, this book meets the three elements of Beauty and the Beast. If you’re feeling tired of a story in a Western setting, I recommend you give this book a try.

If you liked this book, you might like to try the rest of the series

The Rose and The Dagger – Book 2

 

 

GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT ALERT

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Status: On-going. First of a Trilogy. Book 3 to come out on May 2017

One of the most action-packed retellings I’ve read so far. A different shade of dark from Hodge’s Cruel Beauty, the main character Feyre begins the story with hunting down and skinning a wolf she fully knows to be a Fae in another form. Thus, prompting a Beast to demand retribution. Full of sexual tension and the inevitable depiction of sex, this book should not be on the kids or the young adult shelf of any bookstore lest said bookstore receive parental complaints

If you liked the first book, you might want to read the rest of the series

 

2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Status: Finished. Standalone Novel

Another title for more mature readers (aka Parents might not want their kids/teens reading this yet). The Dragon (that’s just his name. He’s not an actual dragon) chooses a girl every ten years (if I remember correctly) to live with him at his castle and Agnieszka happens to be the latest out of a long line of girls. Don’t worry, he doesn’t sleep with them. But these girls stay in that castle with no contact with their home village. Dragon isn’t cursed. But there is something in the woods that has threatened the people for as long as they can remember and Dragon seems to be the only one they can count on to hold it back. And I’ve got to say that that something has got to be one of the creepiest obstacle/antagonist I have ever read about in a BATB retelling

 

3. The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

Status: Finished. Standalone Novel

Unlike the others which are fantasy books, The Beast’s Garden reads more like historical fiction seeing as it is set in Nazi Germany. Where the Beauty, Ava, has Jewish friends she wants to protect and circumstances have led her to the decision to marry a high-ranking German officer. While depictions of sex is nowhere near as graphic as ACOTAR’s, a lot of hearts will get heavy from reading this book due to a lot of events in-book are based on historical fact

 

4. Land of the Beautiful Dead by R Lee Smith

Status: Finished. Standalone Novel

Hands down the darkest and most morbid of the whole selection. Set in a dystopian world wherein cannibalistic corpses roam the UK, the main character Lan wishes to end these “Eaters” by gaining an audience with Azrael: the man who controls the dead. I cannot state enough that this book has a lot of disturbing and trigger inducing moments (TW: dubious consent and impalement a la Vlad the Impaler, just to name what I remember on the top of my head). Azrael is definitely no handsome prince. The very description of him would disturb a lot of people (eg. his bones visible on part of his face). But for all of that he fits the Beast Trope to a T (IMO). He’s very erudite and well-spoken. And there’s this vulnerability to him that speaks of years of loneliness that I seem to get from the Beast archetype.

 

So what makes the Beauty and the Beast trope such a classic that writers go back to it regardless of the era or social customs of the time? Some would say that it’s the idea that someone could love you in spite of your faults that’s so enchanting about this trope. But I think it’s more of the idea that someone would dare to know and understand you and be brave enough to love you for all that you are.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Leave a like if you enjoyed the list, and let us know if you have any books you want me to talk about.

3 Replies to “Beauty and the Beast Retellings”

  1. I love cruel beauty the most! glad you have been included it in the list of the beauty and the beast retellings. I teared up reading the ending because it’s so well done! I also have read stolen songbird and remembered having read beauty elsewhere.. by the way, have you read fairytale retelling by cameron dokey? I love her version of retellings so so much, especially her retelling of sleeping beauty. They’re so classic and beautiful And now based on your recommendation i get interested to read Uprooted by Naomi Novic. so thank you for getting me another interesting book to read:D

    1. OMG! Thanks so much for commenting! And I hope you enjoy Naomi Novik’s Uprooted! I hear a movie adaptation is coming in the future.
      I have to take a look at Cameron Dokey’s work. Thanks for recommending it!

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