This retelling of the classic story of Beauty and the Beast brings the well-known tale to life. McKinley follows the basic plot of the original story, making her own expansions and additions as necessary to flesh it out into novel length; occasionally she makes changes, such as portraying Beauty’s family as loving and supportive rather than obnoxious jerks, but all in all there are no surprises here for those who know the traditional tale.
McKinley is a competent author, and she gives depth to Beauty, who tells the story, as well as to the supporting characters; because of the length of the book, the author has time to develop their personalities and their relationships to great effect. The story comes alive through her descriptions and characterizations. Her writing is vibrant and complex, very high-quality prose, which makes for an enjoyable and uplifting read for teens and adults alike.