bookish posts

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings

This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

CastleBehindThorns-hc-cthrough the woodsbone gapgirls at the kingfisher

Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell: A middle-grade retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” which sounds a bit odd but in practice is lovely. It’s not tied strongly to the source material, and the themes of forgiveness and remaking are dealt with really nicely.

Beauty and Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley: McKinley writes about or around the Beauty & the Beast story in almost all of her books, but these two are the most explicit retelling. I love them both, in different ways. Perhaps this way: Beauty I love with the part of me that read it in middle school and fell in love with fantasy; Rose Daughter I love with the part of me that rejoices in ambiguity and tension.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine: I think many girls my age remember Ella Enchanted fondly. I know I absolutely loved this Cinderella retelling. Ella is so complicated and stubborn, and I was very taken by the romance at the time. I haven’t re-read this in years, but it still has a special place in my heart.

Ash by Malinda Lo: When I first read this one, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it, but as I’ve re-read it, I really have come to appreciate the way Lo approaches the Cinderella story and works with the source material while also creating a new story.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: Based on a little known fairy tale, “Maid Maleen,” Hale transports the setting to a version of Mongolia. This has always been one of my favorite books by Shannon Hale, and I especially appreciate that the main character isn’t the princess, but the maid.

White Cat by Holly Black: When I first read White Cat, I didn’t even realize it was a fairy tale retelling, although I had read the “White Cat” fairy tale several times. (Even though the echoes are pretty obvious if you’re looking.) Set in the modern world, except one where magic is real and outlawed, I love this book a LOT. (I also like the sequels.)

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll: Carroll is clearly conversing with fairy tales, although she doesn’t seem to base her stories on any specific tale, aside from “Little Red Riding Hood”. This is a deliciously terrifying graphic novel and I highly recommend it.

The Chocolate Kiss by Laura Florand: Florand’s books almost always have fairy tale echoes in them, which is part of the charm. Oddly enough, The Chocolate Kiss is one where the echoes aren’t tied to a specific story. But I love the way Florand uses the metaphor of princesses and witches throughout this one. And basically I want to live in the Maison de Sorcieres.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: Bone Gap is “Beauty and the Beast” and Persephone with the dark parts pointed out. While I totally believe it’s possible to tell a happy & feminist retelling of both of these, Ruby takes a hard look at the implications of the stories. I loved this book SO MUCH and I think what it’s doing with fairy tales and myths is fascinating and even necessary.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: A 1920s-set version of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”. Like Bone Gap, Girls looks at the darkness inherent in the original story. And yet, it’s also fundamentally a story about sisters saving each other; about finding your way through the dark places and winning. I love it.

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

2 replies on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings”

I also have Beauty, Ella Enchanted and Laura Florand in my list! I really want to read Bone Gap (I have it in my TBR pile) and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (I still need to find a copy).

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