Beauty - Robin McKinley Ah! A book by Robin McKinley. I cannot even BEGIN to tell you how much I love this woman. Ever since my friend introduced me to her through her Damar series, I couldn't get her books out of my mind. I just HAD to own every single one of them. Beauty is the first book, outside of the Damar series, that I am reading of hers and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

The story revolves around Beauty, a tomboy of sorts that refuses to let anyone tell her what to do and who is a lover of books. Basically, my kind of woman. She lives with her father and two sisters. Her actual name is Honour (I read the UK version, I'm guessing) but after hearing the meaning to her name, she practically said, “Ha! I’d rather be called Beauty!” and by this rather poor attempt at making a joke, she got the name she was called by. Well, we need to have the protagonist come from somewhere!

Beauty lives with her family decked out in riches, because her father was a merchant of good trade. Most of the story from beginning to end is about how she feels ugly and that no man would like her. A bit depressing that a girl would think only of that about herself... and pathetic... but I digress!

There's also some sub-plot about her sisters falling in love and having babies but who cares about that! We only want to know what happens with the main characters, right? Right. DON'T GIVE ME NO LIP!

Anywho, after much happiness of living the good life in the city, where they were deemed as a highly respected family, the family is struck with a series of unfortunate events. (No. I will not read and review those books.) Now, broke and with nowhere to live, Hope's boytoy offers to help the family out by moving them, himself included, to his hometown called Blue Hill. It was in this peaceful village they lived, and you guessed it, peacefully.

Until one stormy afternoo~~ *Slaps self* No. I won't go there. But I'm serious when I say that everything went to hell once the father went out to check on one of his ships that was supposedly destroyed—one of the many reasons to his poverty situation. He lost his way in the woods that was located just outside his backyard... I'm not even kidding. Whilst in the wood, he finds himself at the gates of a gorgeous castle where he takes shelter there for the night and where he discovers the castle is enchanted.

Of course, he does something stupid which upsets the Beast, the ruler and quite-tame owner of the castle. So much for the rumors of a very ferocious monster living in the forest... The Beast conveys to Roderick Huston, Beauty's father, that in order for his life to be spared, he must make the decision to give up one of his daughters. I bet you can see where the story is going to go from here.

Beauty takes her father's place; the only way to break the curse the Beast is under is through love; but of course that's not going to happen in the first chapter. Otherwise, there would be no book... or fairytale for that matter! But to be honest... most of what happened was because of Beauty's stubbornness.

I love the story. It was lovely and put very well together. I also love McKinley. She is truly a fascinating writer. However, this being the first book she has ever written, it wasn't really her BEST work.

The story felt a bit lacking. All it really was about was how Beauty just lived at the castle, refusing to marry the Beast, taking care of her horse (because the horses in this book appeared a lot in the story), and complaining how she was ugly. I've read a few retelling of Beauty & the Beast so I have seen quite an interesting mix of stories. I felt that McKinley could have done so much more than she did.

Where she lacks in plot though, McKinley makes up for it in characters. The characters are so ALIVE in this book. Everything they go through, you go through with them. Huston is one of the most caring fathers I have ever seen in a book. The sisters are always willing to help out their younger sister and also boost up her confidence when she belittles herself. Ger, Hope's boytoy, is so sweet for wanting to help his love's family out and Robbie, Grace's man, is just sexy! But my absolute favorite characters have to be the invisible servants from the castle. Lydia and Bessie. They mostly appeared whenever they went to assist Beauty with a task but when they were there, their dialogue was one of absolute delight. How they made me laugh and wish that they were my servants just so that I could talk to them! (Oh, like you've never envisioned yourself with sla-I mean, servants! Hmm... not a much better word choice... oh well!) They were the most intelligent characters out of the book. Too bad they only appear a few times. Poo!

The Beast! My God! The Beast! He is the sweetest I have ever seen! How gentle! How kind! How epically awesome smex! I wanted to make him mine! In fact, I felt that he was too good for our female lead which is sad because I wanted to really like both. The only flaw I saw in the Beast was how he fell in love with Beauty the moment he laid his eyes on her... and that's not me exaggerating. Seriously, he met her one second and then the next, "Will you marry me?" Pisses me off...

I was most disappointed with Beauty. Here's why: She starts off awesome but becomes really stupid by the end of the book. I mean, at the beginning she shows just how kickass she is! I'm serious! You just think she is cool! But then... you see how really spoiled she is and how much she whines and, dear God, she actually started CRYING because the servants wanted her to wear a dress that she hated and felt she was too ugly to wear.

That's another thing that annoyed me about her!!! She kept going on and on about how UGLY she is! Damn it, girl! We heard the first 892,462,170,398,564,221,375 times! We don't need to hear it again! I am truly sorry for those who actually sympathized with her on her idiocy but I just can't do it. The way she was acting was childish and so for that, she deserves to be turned into a cockroach that needs to be squished!

...but I did like the book! I know. You can so tell by how much I bashed it, huh? No, really. It was a pretty good book. There's not much action but that's not the point of the book. It was to show the romance between our two leads. However, I just wished there was a bit more to see and our female lead didn't turn into a spoiled brat, or more so than normal. The writing was great and the rest of the characters were amazing. McKinley knows how to please and she does not disappoint even in her first novel.

I rate Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast a four out of five. A recommended read for all fans of the fairytale, romance, and people who don't really mind their female leads being complete dumbasses!!