I love fairy tales. I used to read the two massive volumes of collected fairy tales my parents had on the shelves over and over as a child (and I have those two volumes on my shelf, now :)). There is something intrinsically satisfying about them, and I’ve read widely on the interpretation of fairy tales and also the reason why fairy tales are so appealing through the years.
My upcoming novel, Mistress of the Wind, is a retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and I really loved writing it. I felt so connected to the story, having read it so many times since I was a child. The story is part of the Psyche and Eros / Beauty and the Beast grouping of tales, and I love the way the heroine has to go on an epic journey to save her lover. Most fairy tale heroines don’t get that much in the way of grand adventure, but East of the Sun, West of the Moon veers from the usual fairy tale path there.
I love reading fairy tale retellings, and I thought I’d do something today like I did a few months back with historical novels, and find a list of some of the fairy tale retellings out there at the moment–because I’m sure you don’t already have more than enough good books to keep you occupied with the holidays coming up
First up, there is The Snow Child. This is a book I really want to read, based on the Russian fairy tale of the Snow Child. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and numerous other awards. I’ve always loved this fairy tale, and this is the first retelling of it I’ve seen. You can find all the details on Goodreads here.
I only just stumbled on this retelling of the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses when looking up fairy tale retellings for this post, but Entwined by Heather Dixon looks like a really great read. The Twelve Dancing Princesses is such a great story of girls behaving defiantly. I love it (Goodreads info here). Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George is another retelling of this same fairy tale, and reading the Goodreads blurbs, I love how both authors have put their own spin on it. The Goodreads info on Princess of the Midnight Ball can be found here.
An enduring classic, and a story that is grouped into the same Aarne-Thompson fairy tale classification number as East of the Sun, West of the Moon, is Beauty and the Beast. They are both part of the ‘husband’ group of fairy tales, although Psyche and Eros is closer to East of the Sun, West of the Moon structurally than Beauty and the Beast, which is more of an internal journey only, where I see East of the Sun, West of the Moon as both an external journey and a journey of internal growth. Robin McKinley is well-known for her fairy tale retellings, and Beauty is one I haven’t read, but really plan to. (Goodreads info here.) I understand that McKinley’s retelling sticks close to the original Beauty and the Beast tale, whereas the other retelling I came upon while looking for books for this post, Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay, turns the fairy tale on its head and shakes is about quite a bit, while still being recognizably based on the original fairy tale. I am very intrigued (and if you are, too, Goodreads info is here.)
Next up we have the heavy-weight of fairy tales — Cinderella. This has to be one of the most enduring fairy tales of all. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is one of those wonderful retellings that turns the stereotype of the girl waiting to be rescued on its head. You can find the Goodreads info here. I don’t know how many Cinderella retellings there are out there, but a recent one, and one I own but shamefully haven’t got round to reading yet, is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This version of the tale is set in futuristic New Beijing (Goodreads info here). I love the idea of a futuristic / sci-fi setting for Cinderella, and can’t wait to read it.
Another fairy tale I’ve always loved is The Snow Queen. Obviously C.S. Lewis loved it too, because he incorporated elements of it into his Narnia series. I didn’t know about either of these retellings of The Snow Queen before I wrote this post, but it looks like I have a few reading treats ahead of me. The first is Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce (Goodreads info here) and the second is Winter’s Child by Cameron Dokey (Goodreads info here). Both seem to follow the original relatively closely. I’ve always loved the way this fairy tales tackles various ways of seeing the world, and self-sacrifice. There is a poignancy to this story that gets me every time.
And finally three other classic fairy tales retold that I’m looking forward to reading. I have Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth on order, and can’t wait to get it. A retelling of Rapunzel, woven through with an account of one of the fairy tale’s first tellers. How great does that sound? And I love the title, too. Goodreads info here. Then there is the retelling of The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. The Goose Girl has to be one of my all time favorite fairy tales, and the reviews for this one are wonderful. I am seriously off to order this as soon as I hit publish on this post! Goodreads info here. And finally another of my favorites, which I feel like I have a lot more insight into after reading the interpretation of this tale by Clarissa Estes in her wonderful exploration of the power of the feminine in fairy tale, Women Who Run With the Wolves – a retelling of Bluebeard, entitled Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson. Goodreads info here.
I’m going to offer one of these books (winner’s choice, including an ARC of Mistress of the Wind, if that’s your pick) to a randomly drawn commenter. Tell me about your favorite fairy tale retelling, your favorite fairy tale, or anything else you like I’ll do the draw on Friday.