HEARTS BLOOD by Juliet Marillier is her retelling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, but she makes this story so much her own, I actually didn’t recognize the original tale, only learning that it was based on the well-known fairy story after I’d finished reading it and was perusing the Amazon reviews.
Deftly downplaying Beauty’s beauty and the Beast’s ugliness, Marillier turns this tale into one about the power of hope to overcome sorrow. Although there are some fantasy elements, this story is firmly grounded in history, in the Norman conquest of Ireland either under Henry I (1100-1135) or his grandson Henry II (1154-1189).
IMHO HEARTS BLOOD is a wonderfully told tale, on a par with the SEVENWATERS sagas. Five stars.