Rose Daughter
by Robin McKinley, historical (1998)
Ace, $5.99, ISBN 0-441-00583-7

This is a lyrical retelling of the Beauty and The Beast fairytale, but dang it, it is slower than a one legged-tortoise doused on amphetamines. Beautiful writing can't disguise the fact that an over-90's senior citizen karaoke session is more happening than this book.

Beauty is the youngest of three daughters of a wealthy merchant. Eldest Lionheart is beautiful and courageous, second daughter Jeweltongue is beautiful and eloquent, and Beauty, ironically, isn't as beautiful and is Martha Stewart of the fantasy world when it comes to gardening and housekeeping. Daddy goes bankrupt and they move to a small cottage, Rose Cottage, in provincial Longchance. Beauty and sisters put the tumbledown house back to some semblence of livability, Daddy discovers that one of his ship is still sailing, goes off (with a promise to bring back a Rose for Beauty), comes back empty-handed, seeks refuge in Mr Beast's home, steals a rose, gets caught, and Beauty is sent to live with the Beast.

There, I've summarized half of the book already.

The remaining half gets even slower. Everyone starts talking in two-page monologues, takes ten paragraphs to walk across the room, and I'm glad no one does anything more exertive - think of how long this book would be if someone actually got married! Beauty spends all her time tending roses (one pruning takes about a page of descriptions) or dreaming of really nice but boring things in one repetitive circle (repeat and rinse, repeat and rinse). And at the end of the day I watch Beauty walk off into the sunset with Beast with nothing but numbness in my backside.

Why did I bother in the first place? Should've just popped the Disney cartoon into my VCR - at least in that cartoon Beauty does some singing and feitsy heroine antics instead of doing a slow snowy Ma, Ain't I Pretty In My Dress And Pruning Of Roses imsonmia-curing act.

Rating: 50

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