We’re half a month late, but it’s been 30 years since the release of Disney’s animated film Beauty and the Beast. The “tale as old as time” is still one of this book-loving brunette’s absolute favorite movies (I also adore the live-action version), and I have vague, fond memories of seeing it in the theatre when I was barely old enough to sit still for that hour and a half. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it since, but Belle showed me that it’s not uncool to be bookish and smart, and princesses don’t all have to fit the same Cinderella mold.
If you’re an avid Beauty and the Beast fan like I am, and looking for some more written versions of this classic story, here’s a list I compiled of ten retellings that have high ratings:
1. A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
Harper, the Belle in this book, has a disability and plenty of spunk, and the Beast character (Rhen) is cursed to repeat the autumn of his 18th year over and over. Magic has brought her from Washington, DC, to his world of Emberfall—which is falling into ruin; but together, maybe they can save it. This is the first book in a fantastic trilogy.
2. Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
In this one, the Beast is a prince of Persia who’s cursed for making a foolish choice during an important religious ceremony. He journeys through the Middle East and France, in search of both redemption and a woman courageous enough to love him.
3. Firelight by Kristen Callihan
A disfigured, nefarious nobleman. A woman with a strange and powerful gift that she struggles to control. These two enter a forced marriage, and she must brave a world of dark magic to save his soul. Takes place in 1880s London and starts a series.
4. Beauty by Robin McKinley
Fairly close to the Disney premise, but the Belle character’s father is a merchant who lost his fortune when all his ships went down in a storm. Also, this Belle’s real name is Honour, and she lives up to that name when she takes her father’s place as the Beast’s prisoner.
5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
After killing a wolf, a young huntress, Feyre, is captured by a beast demanding retribution. It turns out that he’s one of the immortal faeries who once ruled her world, and Feyre has to save him and his land from an evil queen. The book mixes in the Tam Lin legend as well, and starts a series.
6. Beastly by Alex Flinn
Kyle, a popular, privileged high schooler in modern-day New York, is turned into a beast by a girl he humiliated at a dance. Like in the Disney tale, he has to get a true love’s kiss to break the spell, and in this version our Belle (Linda) is the daughter of a man who was trying to rob Kyle’s family’s mansion.
7. Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier
In this Gaelic retelling, young scribe Caitrin flees an abusive home and finds shelter and work at the rundown castle home of disgraced chieftain Anluan. After finding out that his family is under a curse, she sets out to find a way to lift it.
8. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
A blind princess is raised to be a sacrifice to ensure her city’s prosperity. Outside the city, in the desert, a mutant beast fights to save his people from starvation. In a reversal of the usual storyline, he is captured and becomes her prisoner, and in many ways it’s unclear exactly which of them is the Beauty and which the Beast.
9. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
All her life, this Beauty has been betrothed to the Beast character—and training to kill him, to undo the curse he placed on her people. But after she marries him and moves into his castle, she finds the situation is totally different than she expected. Aspects of Greek mythology color the story.
10. Entreat Me by Grace Draven
Two beauties (sisters) and two beasts (father/son)! The younger sister runs off with the son, and the older sister, a widow, follows them to a castle imprisoned in time and ends up in love with the father. Vengeance, dark magic, and a bloodthirsty rose stand in her way of breaking the family’s curse.
What's your favorite Disney movie or favorite fairy-tale retelling?
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