Once upon a time, I stumbled across the miraculous genre that is fairy tale retellings. Of course, the age old question is, how many versions of Cinderella can you read before you feel as depressed as the bullied orphan herself? In my opinion, quite a large amount, if they’re executed properly. I think that’s the wonder of fairy tales, the way that they hold a different meaning for everybody and that they can be stretched and pulled in different ways to give a unique spin on an old legend.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fairy tale retellings recently, especially given the Spanish course that I’m studying at school. We’ve been watching a film by Guillermo del Toro called El Laberinto del Fauno, which is a spin on the tradition of fairy tales though, in the director’s words himself, it is not happy nor is it for children. I’m not sure if I like it or not (it’s a 15 and slightly gorier than what I’d usually watch) but the way that it interprets traditional lore is interesting and the symbolism creates a film with a type of unique lyricism and poignancy. It’s certainly not forgettable.
I think that’s the wonder of fairy tales, the way that they hold a different meaning for everybody and that they can be stretched and pulled in different ways to give a unique spin on an old legend.Tweet
Today, though, I’ll be sharing a couple of my favourite YA fairy tale retellings from a series with a cyborg for a Cinderella to a version of Mulan that involves duals and much more.
- The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
I’m sure I’ve talked about The Lunar Chronicles here on my blog before but the series is really worth talking about. It has an exciting mix of settings and interprets traditional fairy tales in a unique way. From a girl with long hair who has been stuck on a satellite for years to a cyborg with skills as a mechanic, traditional fairy tale characters are given not only a modernisation but some exciting changes. I highly recommend the series and am particularly excited, given that Marissa Meyer has just released news about her latest book, Gilded, a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin.
- The Hagenheim Series by Melanie Dickerson
I found the books in this series a couple of summers ago and read as many of them as had been published. There’s currently 11 (I’ve read 10) but I highly recommend them. They’re Christian retellings of fairy tales set in the Holy Roman Empire and are told from two POVs, that of the hero and heroine. Some of my favourites include The Merchant’s Daughter, a retellng of Beauty And The Beast and The Piper’s Pursuit which was a retelling of the story of the pied piper. You could say that after a while they’re formulaic but I still find them enjoyable to read and they always have really pretty covers…
- The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas
My final mention goes to a retelling of Mulan called The Magnolia Sword. I reread it recently and enjoyed it especially as it is fairly action-packed and there are some quite funny moments. As a standalone, it’s quick to read and definitely worth it.
As well-worn as they are, fairy tale retellings shouldn’t be so appealing but for me, they are. I’m constantly on the lookout for more, maybe because sometimes predictability is nice– happily ever afters can be refreshing in the business of a more complicated relaity– and because originality can reform any story.
Do you have any favourite fairy tale retellings that I should read? Have you ever written a fairy tale retelling?