I think my problem with this book is not so much the book itself but the source material-- I realized as I was reading this that I just don't like the story of Beauty and the Beast. I have really never believed that Beauty fell in love with the Beast; it has always seemed more like a product of circumstance to me. Here is a young girl who is taken away from her family, isolated in an enchanted castle with only a beast for company. I think, in order to live out her life in a somewhat bearable manner, she has to come to sympathize with her captor.
That aside though, McKinley has created a wonderful story with lots of detail, and I particularly like how she describes all the enchantments in the castle. I also like that we learn more about Beauty's family and background. However, I feel that the interactions between the titular characters were very limited, so the revelation of their feelings for each other seemed too sudden. I think this is just McKinley's style; she writes little of the emotions of the characters, preferring the reader to infer them from their actions and words. I'm not sure it worked in this book, but I also think a part of this has to do with my general skepticism about the original fairytale. Sure, Beauty and the Beast respect each other and care for each other, and I do believe the Beast has romantic feelings for Beauty, but the other way around? It seems more like Stockholm Syndrome to me.