I’ve always been a huge fan of fairytales: there’s something about the combination of magic and nostalgia that surrounds them that I just adore! I even did a module about them when I did English Literature at university, and it was pretty fascinating to find out so much about the origins and evolution of some of the most popular tales, and to learn about some of the lesser known stories, or ones from other cultures.
Seen as I’m also an avid reader (and a fan of fantasy, which is probably the nearest genre of books to fairytales, what with the magical elements), it stands to reason that I love novel adaptations of fairytales, so I thought I’d do a quick list of some of my favourites.
So here are my top 5 fairytale retellings! What are yours?
- The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
The Bloody Chamber is the title of a curious collection of fairy tale inspired stories by the feminist writer Angela Carter. Needless to say, these are some very interesting transformations of the traditionally patriarchal fairy tales, my favourite being the title story The Bloody Chamber, which retells the classic Bluebeard story. Not only is the prose beautiful and enchanting, but I like the way the traditionally two-dimensional female protagonist is transformed in this retelling (not to mention the badass mother with her revolver!).
- North Child by Edith Pattou
I first read this book as a young teenager, and can well remember the feeling of magic and wonder that I felt upon reading this tale of a girl and an enchanted bear on an epic journey. I didn’t actually realise until recently that it was actually based on a Norwegian fairytale, ‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’, but it makes sense in retrospect, as it definitely had that strange, magical quality to it!
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
You probably saw this one coming! One of the biggest books in the blogosphere, Cinder is an incredibly popular YA sci-fi adaptation of Cinderella, which turns her into a cyborg living in a dystopian world that is being ravaged by a terrible plague and threatened by an evil Queen from the moon (yep, it sounds totally insane to those who haven’t read it, but trust me – it’s awesome!). This is one of the most imaginative retellings I’ve ever read, which is why I’ve included it in this list.
- Happy Ever After by Adele Geras
I first read this book by Adele Geras years and years ago, yet it has stuck with me since then, and every time I think of fairytales, this is one book that always tends to pop into my head. It’s actually a collection of three novellas by Adele Geras, each of which is based on a different fairy tale, and a different character (although the same three characters feature in all of them). In this collection Geras moves the tales of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White to a modern (well…I’d say it’s probably set in the 50s or 60s maybe?) boarding school, with the three friends, Megan, Alice and Bella taking the title roles. The book somehow seems to retain the magic of the original tales, despite there being no actual magic it within it, although I should warn anyone thinking of reading this one that there is some quite dark, traumatic scenes in it.
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
This book (and series) may only be loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, but it’s by Sarah J. Maas, so it was pretty much guaranteed to be a favourite fairytale retelling of mine! I liked the first book well enough (which is the bit that’s mostly Beauty and the Beast themed), but the second book I absolutely adored. The series basically uses the classic fairytale as a jumping off point for one hell of a fantasy series, and I really like the idea of being inspired by fairytales, whilst not sticking too rigidly to the framework. Maybe I’ll try that in my own writing!
So what are some of your favourite fairytale retellings?