The Few, the Proud, and the Hardcore of Fairy Retellings

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Different by Acceptance.


It's no secret (anymore) that I love fairy tales, and fairy tale retelling in particular. I have yet to write my own retelling, but if it were to be any, it would one of the many fantastic unknown fairy tales.

So as we near the last few days of fairy tale month here, I want to point you to a few of the vetrans of fairy tale retellings, in case you need a fix (or three) like I sometimes do. ^_^


The obvious first is the venerable Robin McKinley. She was doing this back in the 80's when I was but a wee one*, and her first story of Beauty and the Beast is still among one of my absolute favorites. She has covered the gamut of Sleeping Beauty to Robin Hood, though her early work is far better in my opinion.

Cameron Dokey is an old hand at Simon and Schuster's Once Upon a Time novel series. If you haven't heard about it, that may be a little heaven for you, though some of them have been hit and miss for me (but I certainly haven't read all of them yet). I mention Cameron Dokey because she represents a majority of the work and she has ventured into such unknown fairy tales as one of Mulan and the Arabian Nights. A retelling of the Snow Queen is being released later this year apparently, which is news to me. But good bubbly kind of news.

Not quite a predominant fairy teller, but Shannon Hale's stories are too good to not include here. She has tackled Rapunzel, Maid Maleen, and The Goose Girl, the last of which has spawned an entire world and series of stories based off of it (shameless plug that the next one is due out this September! So excited).

Another gal from my good ole' home state of Utah who is gaining recognition is the fabulous Jessica Day George. Her first books were based on dragons (always a plus) but she has already managed to put out a couple retellings, both of which I'm dying to get my hands on. *Curse the library-holding gods* I'm number 38 after almost a month of waiting. Grrr. Patience is not a virtue in this case. Her retellings include East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

And just because I love East of the Sun so much, I have to include the author of the other retelling I know of - East by Eddith Pattou. I really enjoyed this one.

Donna Jo Napoli is another veteran, and has a slew of books in the realm of faerie. She is not always my cup of tea, but I put her on here because she certainly does have q few retelling under her belt. Before Shannon Hale, she was the only one I knew of who had tackled Rapunzel. And Zel is such a cool name.

Juliet Marillier describes herself as a historical fantasist, and I think that is a perfect description of her. Author of the Acclaimed Sevenwaters trilogy (the first of which is based on one of the little known fairy tales of The Six Swans - awesome fairy tale), she has also written for young adults Wildwood Magic, based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses (I told you this fairy tale was getting more love recently). :)

Did I miss anyone? Anyone you absolutely love that I am insane to have missed? Please tell me and I'll add them to the list. Hope you found some new friends to enjoy.



*scuse me, I just checked and found out her first fairy book was published in 1978. So I was a bit less than a wee one. :D

10 comments:



beth said...

Have you read Bound by Donna Jo Napoli? BRILLIANT. It's Cinderella from the POV of a Chinese family...during the time when they bind feet...

Robin McKinley has some great stuff, but I'm like you: the old stuff is better.

I like most of Cameron Dokey's Once Upon a Time, but some of them, eg. I've actually got one of that series on order right now!

And I'd not heard of Juliet Marillier or Jessaica Day George before, but she sounds great. Love East of the Sun!

Hmmm...I can't think of a retelling of a fairy tale that you missed, but Beauty and the Beast is based on Cupid and Psyche mythology, and CS Lewis wrote Till We Have Faces as a retelling of that myth AND IT IS ONE OF THE BESTEST BOOKS EVAR. So, yeah. :)

beth said...

OMG--and you forgot the best retelling of a fairy tale EVER! Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted. I cry every time I read the ending :)

Ashley said...

Wow, I have read every single book you mentioned above and many more by those authors. Love them! :) I was going to say "Ella Enchanted" too. I just happen to be rereading it right now for about the thirtieth time. It's one of my all-time favs. Levine also wrote "Fairest," an interesting twist on Snow White. And then there's Mette Ivie Harrison, who wrote "Mira, Mirror," which is Snow White from the mirror's perspective, oddly enough, and "The Princess and the Hound," which I think is based on an obscure-ish fairy tale, though I could be wrong. Hooray for fairy tales!

PJ Hoover said...

You are so young!

I wonder how long fairy tale retellings will stay popular. I kind of think forever.

Steph Su said...

I screamed silently inside when I read this post, because I love it! I love, love, love fairy tale retellings, and just might be a little bit obsessed with them. Donna Jo teaches linguistics at my college--and yes, we call her Donna Jo, though I haven't taken a class with her, nor have I read her books (I wanted to. Take a class with her, that is. As well as read her books. Last semester she taught a class on writing children's lit. I was distraught when it couldn't fit in my schedule). The other authors you mentioned are amazing as well. Gail Carson Levine also writes middle grade Princess Tales that are retellings. They were fun to read in middle school.

I just finished Ash by Malinda Lo, which is an amazing retelling of Cinderella. I can't stop blubbering about how good Malinda's writing is. You need to check it out when it comes out in September!

Jazz said...

Sunshine by Robin McKinley is in my TBR pile. Not a retelling, but I hear it is awesome. So if it is good, I will definitely check out her other stuff.

I love the Gregory Maguire retellings for their dark realism. My favorite retelling is Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. It is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche from the point of view of Psyche's oldest sister.

Heather Zundel said...

I'm just going to put it out here that I ADORE C.S Lewis. I've known about Till We Have Faces for so long, but I have not read it yet. Ultimate shame on me. Love that man to death. Brilliant writer.


Beth - so THAT's the Chinese Cinderella I was thinking of! So good to know. I haven't read that one of hers, but now I really may have to. And yes, East of the Sun is fantastic. One of my absolute favorite fairy tales. ^_^

Ashley - Really? That is so cool! Virtual high five! I can't believe I forgot about Mira Mira too. That is such a unique take and Mr. Harrison is also a local author for me. I will have to remedy that quickly. *scurries off*

PJ - Oh PJ, I hope that is a compliment. Or at least a pet-like compliment. :) I do feel so young to think about it that way. But I'm with you, I don't think fairy tales/retellings will ever go away. There is a reason they are called "timeless" :)

Steph Su - Hey you! Okay, now that is just sweet. I didn't know she taught college courses. You are going to have to take advantage of that as soon as you have an opening (I know that that feels like). We didn't have anything like that for me, but we did have a fantasy literature course, which I just about died and went to heaven when I saw it. It rotated every year and so I snatched that up. Such a cool class. We got to watch Princess Mononoke for credit. Now that's just cool.

And I will definitely have to check Ash out. I've been hearing whispers about it all over the place. Good to hear it has a good recommendation from you Steph!

Jazz - I haven't read her Sunshine yet. Will you tell me if it is any good? And thank you for mentioning Gregory Maguire! I can't believe I forgot him. (Cupid and Psyche is my absolute favorite greek myth). :)


Thank you for reminding me of so many good authors everyone!

PJ Hoover said...

It is definitely a compliment!

Jazz said...

I will definitely let you know how Sunshine is!

Kate said...

I love "Beauty and the Beast".