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From Barnes & NobleOne of the biggest problems for the fantasy-reading world is that Robin McKinley doesn't write enough. The other is that her books are often published as young adult novels in hardcover, so they might be missed. This one shouldn't be missed. It's a return to the fairy tale "Beauty and the Beast," the story that underlay her first published work, Beauty (available in a HarperCollins YA edition), and as such it's a story that offers no genuine surprises. That said, it offers a wonderful, deep sense of magic, a warm affection for characters that's almost unparalleled, and a love of growing things, of gardening, that's probably -- in this genre -- just as unique. Beauty and her sisters, having had their lives destroyed by the tragedy of their father's financial misfortunes, travel to the countryside and there find and make a home for themselves in a lovely cottage where roses once bloomed. Roses are McKinley's symbol for magic here, but they're also her symbol for love -- and they take careful work, thorns and all; she doesn't imply that either love or magic comes easily. Highly recommended.