A great book! I read the first version of Robin McKinley's Beauty & Beast with "Beauty" that she wrote in the 70s - which was fantastic! In reading this tale that she wrote about 10 years ago - it was just as great. There were some common elements, but they were so small that it did not detract from this telling of the story. This story was just as unique and had some more magical and enchanted elements to it. It also gave Beauty the choice at the end - keep the Beast as is, or change him into the handsome man. It was just a great, heart-warming story about magic and love. I highly recommend it!
This was a beautifully written book, full of flowing prose and vivid descriptions. Unfortunately, the flowing prose and vivid descriptions kept me from easily following the plot. I was really looking forward to reading this book, because I love Robin McKinley, and I loved Beauty (written 20+ years ago). To be honest, though, I still like Beauty much more than this version. While I enjoyed reading this book, I don't think she gave enough interaction between Beauty and the Beast to make me believe that they fell in love. I miss the Beauty who is a bookworm and has a beloved horse. I miss the helpful "ghosts" and Gervain and Melinda and the other characters. I miss an ending that I can really understand. Hmmmmm, I think I'll go read Beauty again.
I heard from someone once that this book is more popular with gardeners and adults, whereas Beauty is more for children. I liked Beauty better, though possibly because I read it first. I adore all books by Robin McKinley, but I have to say that I don't think her endings are very good...
I've always loved Robin McKinley and this book only added to my impression that she is one of the best writers out there of romantic fantasy. This book is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but it departs from the original story much more than her earlier book, Beauty. And don't expect anything like the Disney version - this book is much darker than any children's version although it is marketed as young adult fantasy.
My only complaint about this book is that I wish she had made the unicorns a bigger part of the story. They were such a surprise addition late in the book and I wish she had developed them more. And I also think she tied up the ending a little too quickly - you knew there was going to be a happily-ever-after - but she didn't take the story far enough to actually show it happening.
Trying to describe something as complex and hauntingly beautiful as Rose Daughter is a remarkably hard thing to have to do. It takes your breath away with all the beautiful descriptions. It stays in your thoughts long after you've finished and will leave you wishing for more. Ms. McKinley has really outdone herself here. There is really only one way to describe a book like this...