I was utterly absorbed and enchanted by this novel, and greatly preferred it to the author's earlier work, Beauty (which is also a retelling of the Beaty and the Beast legend). Whilst several of the other reviewers seem to have felt that it lacked charm of the earlier work, I personally found Rose Daughter to be intelligent, magical and above all, excellently written. Whilst the herione of this novel is certainly not as tom-boyish as that of the earlier work, I feel that her quality of gentleness makes her a refreshing character. In the past, I'll admit, it was usual for female protagonists to be dull and lady-like, but nowadays the "spunky" herione is just as much of a cliche. The herione of this work is a full character, not a stereotype, and so has a MIXTURE of "old-fashioned" and "modern" character traits.
I also found the ending to "Rose Daughter" supremely satisfying, since I had often wished that the story had an end which justified the moral of the story better. Robin McKinley's writing is always good, but this is my favourite of her books, apart perhaps from "Deerskin".
Perhaps the essential difference between "Rose Daughter" and "Beauty" is that "Rose Daughter" has a more mature tone, which is closer to that of "Deerskin", and whilst it may disappoint those who read "Beauty" many years ago, and who hoped unreasonably that "Rose Daughter" would be an extension or enlargement the earlier story, I found the overal effect enchanting.
The dream-like quality of the writing gives it a sense of half-hidden purposes and meanings, whilst the diffence in timings between outside and inside the beast's territory only adds to beauty and intensity of the developing love between the girl and the beast.
Frankly, I am at a loss to understand the criticism this book has recieved from other reviewers, and I would highly recommend this book to almost any reader.