This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it contains all of the elements of the story you usually see. Loving the story so much, I was expecting to enjoy this too, and I was not disappointed. It's beautifully told, and McKinley's interpretation of the world and the characters is truly delightful. I adored Beauty, who was not "typically" beautiful or by any means perfect, which just made her all the more real and powerful. I loved the slow build of her relationship with the Beast. I loved her relationships with the rest of her family. I loved the twists and turns of the plot. I loved the narration by Charlotte Parry. I just loved this book.
Beauty left me hungry for more fairy tale retellings, and having seen Mands at The Bookish Manicurist rave about the Enchanted audiobook I decided to give it a try. It was a lot of fun. This time the fairy tale was the frog prince (with a few more mixed in!) and it was a charming and interesting take on the story. I really liked the main characters of Sunday and Rumbold, and the secondary characters - who apparently take centre stage in later novels in the series - were also great. I did find myself confused in a couple of places, where I thought the backstory of exactly what was going on could have been explained better, but overall it was a lovely book, with excellent narration by Katherine Kellgren.
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner, narrated by Ellen Kushner with performances by Dion Graham, Katherine Kellgren, Robert Fass, Nick Sullivan and Simon Jones
I was drawn to this book by the "Neil Gaiman presents" label, and the idea of the "enhanced" audiobook, complete with performances - including by Katherine Kellgren - intrigued me. The story itself, a swashbuckling adventure that Gaiman describes as "if Jane Austen wrote fantasy", completely sold me. So this book had a lot going for it. It's a shame it didn't live up to that potential. First, the narration was terrible. The author's own American accent just sounded completely off for her clearly not American story and characters, and she was not great with the various voices. The fact that character voices were replaced by actors in certain scenes was more jarring than anything, and the sound effects and music were totally ridiculous and distracting. As for the story itself, considering it's all about sword fighting and murder plots, it was surprisingly slow-paced and boring. There was too much focus on high society politics for my liking. It didn't help that not one of the characters were likeable - not even in a love-to-hate kinda way. They were just annoying, infuriating, or tedious. I had to force myself to finish this book, and I was SO glad when it was over.