10 Enchanting Beauty and the Beast Retellings
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on ThePortalist.com, and is reposted here with permission.
In 1991, Disney brought a classic French fairytale to the big screen with their animated classic, Beauty and the Beast. Now, 26 years later, the much-anticipated live action adaptation has been released. Starring Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast, the new film is sure to delight audiences looking for an updated version of the beloved tale.
If you’re a fan of Belle’s story and want a new spin on the classic, look no further than these great books.
Very similar to the original tale, McKinley’s retelling follows Beauty, a plain girl with two other sisters who are described to be beautiful. After her father returns from a trip, bringing with him a rose that Beauty requested, he tells them that he was imprisoned by a beast for stealing and was only set free in exchange for one of his daughters. Beauty agrees to go live with the Beast and, although she is skeptical at first, learns that there is a lot more to her captor than meets the eye.
Silver Birch, Blood Moon
Windling and Datlow’s World Fantasy Award-winning collection of re-told fairytales features “Skin So Green and Fine,” by Wendy Wheeler—a Caribbean take on the classic that intertwines the voodoo religion with magic. When Bonita’s father arranges a lucrative marriage between her and a man they refer to as “The Snake Man,” she is at first uneasy about being his wife. Though The Snake Man is reluctant to answer her questions, including why his mansion has no servants, she soon learns he’s a kind and caring man.
Re-Read: Black Swan, White Raven
Flinn’s 2007 interpretation of the fairy tale takes place in present-day New York City, and is told from the view of the beast. When rich and handsome high school student Kyle Kingsbury plays a practical joke on his outcast classmate, Kendra, she reveals she’s a witch and curses him as a beast for his cruelty. If he finds someone who loves him within two years, then he’ll be returned to his original form, and if not…he’ll stay a beast forever. Beastly was adapted into a 2011 film starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer.
Nyx always has a plan. Betrothed to an evil ruler, she must marry and then kill him—freeing her people from his cruelty. But when she moves into his castle on her seventeenth birthday, things become more complicated. Her charming new husband is nothing like what she expected, and she’ll have to guard her heart closely if she expects to continue with her mission.
Of Beast and Beauty
This gender-swapping retelling follows a male outsider, and an ugly, female captor. A “Smooth Skin” in the city of Yuan, Princess Isra has been raised as a human sacrifice. Gem—part of the “Monstrous”—is a second class citizen living in the desert outside the city. When Gem attempts to steal the city’s magic to help his people, he’s captured and is at the mercy of Princess Isra. But as the two grow closer, they begin to discover that the things they’ve been raised to believe about one another might be far from the truth.
Novik’s Nebula Award-winning novel tells the story of Agnieszka (Nieszka), a young girl who is chosen to serve the Dragon—not a real dragon, but the nickname of a wizard—for ten years in exchange for her village’s protection. In the Dragon’s tower, she comes to discover that she, too, has magical powers, and will have to learn to harness them if she’s going to help protect her people against the evil Wood. Based on Polish fairy tales Novik heard often as a child, Uprooted will appeal to fans of Beauty and the Beast — particularly anyone looking for a fairy tale featuring a strong female character.
A Court of Thorns and Roses
Nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre comes to discover there’s more to her world when she’s kidnapped by a beast-like creature and taken back to his magical land. Seeking retribution for a wolf Feyre killed, she’s forced to stay in his estate, where he realizes that he’s not a beast at all, but Tamlin—a lethal and immortal faery. But as her anger towards Tamlin turns to passion, she must find a way to stop a growing evil force that’s threatening the world of Fae before it’s too late.
Robin McKinley’s second Beauty and the Beast retelling once again finds Beauty’s merchant father stealing a rose for Beauty, and forced to trade places with his daughter as the Beast’s prisoner. However, this magical tale ends differently from the original—proving that true love is more important than all the riches and glory in the world.
Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears
In another fairy tale retelling collection from Windling and Datlow, Tanith Lee writes a short story, “The Beast.” Lee’s dark take on the story introduces us to Vessavion (a rich, handsome man) and Isobel (a young woman that he marries). Though their relationship is full of love and passion, it’s also filled with dark secrets that threaten their very existence.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
Able to understand animals, Lass has always been an outsider. When a polar bear asks her to accompany him to his castle, assuring her that her family will become rich if she does, she follows. But she soon realizes that his castle, made of ice, is not what it seems. The truth is that he’s really a prince who’s been enchanted by a troll queen and betrothed to her daughter. Now, Lass must find a way to free him from the spell before it’s too late.
(featured image via Disney)
Originally from California, Sarah has been writing and editing professionally since moving to New York after college. You can often find her obsessing over anything old and classic—especially when the cover requires some dusting off. Her favorite books include the entire Harry Potter series, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, and A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
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