Oh Robin McKinley, how do you do it?
Have you ever read anything from this talented author? I only discovered Robin McKinley this past year and I’ve read five of her books so far, every one of them has been anything but a typical experience.
That might be the best way I can think of to describe her style. Unexpected, maybe even a little challenging. Her books give me the feeling that I’m getting a glimpse into a much bigger world, one that will never be fully explained but I’m happy I got to spend some time in.
So five down but so many more to go. I am determined to read most if not all of her books. This will take a little time as she has currently written something like seventeen. But challenge accepted!
For now let’s just talk a little about Rose Daughter:
Once upon a time, a wealthy merchant had three daughters. When his business failed, he moved his daughters to the countryside. The youngest daughter, Beauty, is fascinated by the thorny stems of a mysterious plant that overwhelms their neglected cottage. She tends the plant until it blossoms with the most beautiful flowers the sisters have ever seen—roses.
Admiring the roses, an old woman tells Beauty, “Roses are for love.” And she speaks of a sorcerers’ battle many years ago that left a beast in an enchanted palace, and a curse concerning a family of three sisters . . .
Rose Daughter is Robin McKinley’s second Beauty and the Beast retelling. Her first being Beauty, which so happens to also be her first book and I definitely recommend giving it a try. I’ve said this before but Beauty and the Beast is my all time favorite fairy tale and I have read more retellings than I can remember. You’d think I’d be sick of the same story over and over but no, I still get excited when I find a new one.
Having read both Beauty and now Rose Daughter it was fun to compare how the same author told the same story in a completely different way decades apart.
The same basic ideas are there. A merchant fallen on hard times moves to a small cottage with his three daughters. The merchant steals a rose for a magical castle and the beast living within demands he send one of his daughters for payment. Once the daughter arrives she eventually falls in love with the beast and breaks his curse.
We all know the story.
But it’s how Robin McKinley presents it and the characters she creates that is so special. Good characters make or break a book, and Robin McKinley always seems to spin the most creative and believable characters.
Beauty is an introverted gardener who prefers the company of her roses and animals to people. The Beast is just a lonely soul who became cursed not because of some great vice, but because he had an unbending ideal that made the wrong sorcerer angry. (I don’t believe that’s a spoiler.) Beauty’s sisters and father start out selfish but become a tight knit family determined to support each other.
The characters grow and develop through the story and ultimately all have to choose what kind of people they want to be and what kind of life they want to live.
Bottom line, I loved it! I enjoyed it even more than Robin McKinley’s Beauty, though I liked that one, too. Rose Daughter has definitely become a good friend to me. Do certain books become friends to you?