A Tale as Old as Time

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The Many Wonderful Book Adaptations of Beauty and the Beast

Béatrice Rencourt

In the wake of the much anticipated live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, fans are trying to get their fix any way they can, including reading adaptations of “the tale as old as time”. Here are two of my favorite quirky rewrites that take the classic fairytale and reimagine it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

This adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is set in a world filled with strife between common humans and demonic faeries. The protagonist Feyre, named after the goddess of beauty, teaches herself the skill of hunting to help her family survive after their fall from high society. In her desperation, she travels into Faerie territory to hunt game for her family. After killing a wolf she later discovers was actually a shapeshifter, she must pay penance for the life she took by taking up residence in the home of a Fae Lord. This adaption is particularly compelling because of the mysterious nature of the Fae world that Feyre must navigate as she tries to unravel the curse. Maas does an excellent job of making the Beauty character into a powerful heroine who must make sacrifices as deeply as she loves.

Entreat Me by Grace Draven

Draven’s retelling starts off nearly identically to the classic Disney animated movie; however, we are quickly introduced to a clever variation from the original. The Beauty, Cinna, in this story is not the main character, she sits shotgun to her older protective sister Louvaen. Cinna is thought to be the only maiden who can break the curse on the enchanted castle, but her prince is not the beast himself, it’s his son. In her attempts to shield her sister Louvaen is thrust into the path of the Beast Ballard. Without giving away any spoilers, Draven masterfully crafts relationships full of love, hate, deceit, hope and suffering to create a truly lush and remarkably human undertone to her fantastical tale of man, beast, beauty and hag.

These are just two of many wonderful retellings that can be found; Draven also has a very loosely based adaptation called Radiance. The reason I am so drawn to this particular adaptation is due to the rich political intrigue and multifaceted world Draven has built as the back drop to her story. Her characters come from different species, and, they have to reconcile that appearance is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

In addition, Meagan Spooner jumped onto the scene earlier this month with a nail biting rendition of a huntswoman-type Beauty entitled Hunted, creating a gorgeous novel that you can’t put down even if you try. Spooner does the unexpected with the character of Gaston in her rendition, making him a worthy, compassionate suitor, instead of a vain, narcissistic jerk. The Beauty’s sisters are also presented in a new and fresh way transforming them into pillars of the story instead of just place holders.

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