Retold tales have made for many a good book lately. I thought when I found these two that they'd both be the same story, but it turns out that Tepper's is Sleeping Beauty, so I wasn't expecting as much from it, since the B&B story seems so much more archetypal. Well, wrong. Both books are excellent—no surprise to those of you who've read their others. Both left me in those post-book dazes where you want to start over, or find someone else who'd just read it to, or really, go live in it. But they're very different—McKinley started as a young-adult, Newberry Prize winner, eventually evolving into the author of Sunshine. Her Beauty is probably just that, but it's so very well done that the nine-year-old reader inside me was completely satisfied. She stays with the traditional elements of the story, just placing it in a world so real you can imagine going there. Tepper comes out of science fiction/fantasy mixed with some social concerns (women and environment) and her Beauty goes far beyond the basic tale—to other tales, future worlds, and finally to a sort of speculation/mediation on the end of the world and the meaning of beauty. I especially enjoyed the aging of her Beauty—not just for that reason, but the sixty-one-year-old reader in me was happy, too.
Beauty Sheri Tepper
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, Robin McKinley