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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dark Literary Retellings, from Titania

Today's guest post comes from Titania of Fishmuffins of Doom, one of the blogs I read most consistently!  I was super happy when she said she wanted to post on her favorite dark fairy tales.  Hope you enjoy, and make sure to stick around to the end for a giveaway, sponsored by Titania!

Fairy tales have undergone a great many changes throughout history. First, there were the fairy tales passed orally that change with each person telling them and constantly evolve. Then there are the people who wrote down those fairy tales and edited them to fit their own sensibilities. For example, the Brothers Grimm removed most instances of sexuality and added Protestant morality into the tales. Now, authors reimagine these tales, giving a traditional fairy tale a new setting or set of characters and put their own spin on it. Here are a few of my favorite literary retellings:

* Snow Glass Apples by Neil Gaiman
This is a short story by Neil Gaiman retelling Snow White from the perspective of the evil stepmother. In this story, she actually isn’t evil. She was taken by the king, as was his right, and she stayed with him and served him up until his mysterious death. Snow White is the monster in this story, a pale, mysterious, sharp toothed creature. After her father died covered in mysterious scars, the townspeople cut out the eerie princess’s heart, which kept beating even when removed from her body waiting for its owner to return. This dark version of the tale has such themes as vampirism, incest, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Obviously, it’s not for the faint of heart. Although it is only a few pages long, this is one of the stories that really memorable when I think of the short stories collection it comes from, Smoke and Mirrors. Gaiman’s eloquent and frank style serves this story well, preserving the fairy tale feel as well as adding his own unique, dark atmosphere. I highly recommend this story to people looking for darkness in their fairy tale retellings. You can listen to a dramatic version performed by Bebe Neuwirth and the Seeing Ear Theater in 5 parts on Youtube: 

* Fables by Bill Willingham

Fables is a graphic novel series that features familiar fairy tale characters living in Fabletown, located in New York. They have fled their Homelands to avoid being enslaved by the Adversary and are forced to blend in with Mundy society. The Big Bad Wolf has reformed and assumed human form as Bigby Wolf, the sheriff. Prince Charming has married and divorced Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, AND Snow White and emerged from the whole thing penniless and as much of a cad as ever. These characters transform turn into real, multidimensional people, completely different from their flat and simple origins. They do great deeds of heroism and also commit the most heinous crimes. Mostly, they are real people that act just like us. The first graphic novel focuses around the murder of Snow White’s sister Rose Red. One of the great strengths of this series is the absolutely beautiful art. Many of the pages are even framed with ornate designs and all of the covers are gorgeous. So far, there are 14 books in the series, with a few spinoff series including Jack of Fables, Cinderella, and Peter and Max.

* Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce  

Sisters Red is a young adult retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Don’t let the target audience fool you. This is a dark and gritty retelling that keeps the issues of budding female sexuality and rape in the forefront, as the original does. Scarlett and Rose are two sisters whose grandmother was killed by a Fenris, a savage werewolf who travel in packs and typically prey on women. Scarlett killed that Fenris, resulting in the loss of one of eyes and copious amounts of scars) and has dedicated her life to destroying each and every one she can find. Rose feels obligated to do the same, but longs to do normal teenage things like date and go to school. These two girls use their sexuality to lure in the Fenris for the kill by wearing provocative clothing and heavy makeup. They don’t wait around for a woodsman to save them and take care of themselves. The original Red Riding Hood story either implies that rape is the fault of the victim or is a negative look at a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality. Either way, Jackson Pearce turns this misogynistic tale into one of empowerment. 
This is my favorite YA fairy tale retelling and I look forward to her next retelling, Sweetly.


Titania would like to offer 1 lucky winner a prize pack consisting of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman and Black Thorn, White Rose, and anthology of stories edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling!
Fragile Things & Black Thorn, White Rose
To enter, simply comment on this post! And make sure to leave a way to contact you.
(You should probably leave some love for Titania's awesome post, too!)

Ends May 5th May 8th!


  1. Fantastic!!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  2. I did not realise that there were so many re-tellings of fairy tales being published recently.

    Thanks for the info.

    If the giveaway is open worldwide, I would like to enter.


    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  3. What a great list! Snow Glass Apples sounds freakishly good, and I've been hearing so much about Sisters Red, I must get my hands on it now.


  4. I forgot about Neil Gaiman's retelling! thanks for reminding me!

  5. Would love to be entered...thanks for the giveaway.


  6. Great list. They all sound good. Thanks for the giveaway!

    erinberry12 at charter dot net

  7. Oh man, I didn't know Neil Gaiman did a re-telling of Snow White! AWESOME! And I still need to read Sisters Red, but it looks great. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Tatiana, thank you for this wonderful post! Very interesting!

    The books in this giveaways look awesome!

    Amy // amyismyfriend at aol dot com

  9. I haven't read any of these, but they are now on my wishlist. Great post! :D

    I would love to be entered in the giveaway, if it is international.
    Thank you!

    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

  10. I agree with buddyt, I didn't realize so many books were fairy tale re-tellings. Even a couple that I've read have been listed as re-tellings and I never realized it!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  11. I love fairy tales. I can't wait to read the retellings of each fairy tale. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

  12. thanks for the awesome giveaway!!if its international count me in!!!

    justjanhvi at gmail dot com

  13. Thanks for the giveaway! I love retellings (in case you couldn't tell from all of these giveaways that I've entered, lol - I love Fairy Tale Fortnight!).

    susanna dot pyatt at student dot rcsnc dot org

  14. Thank you so very much Titania, you post awesome! I love fairy-tales!!


  15. I love fairy-tale retellings.. and I think the darker tales are intriguing and more accurate to their original counterparts. Thanks for the chance to win! I just added all of these to my TBR pile.


  16. Great giveaway!

    mk261274 at gmail dot com

  17. Titania ... awesome post! Thanks for the great giveaway!

    swaggirl01 at gmail dot com

  18. Fairy Tales were always a tad dark before Disney got a hold of them. It's great to see them re-told for grown-ups now.


  19. I'd love to win one of these books!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  20. The Snow White retelling by Gaiman sounds heavy. Will have to read it when I can.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  21. What a super interesting post! I like romance and fairy tales, but I ALSO like dark things... LOL
    I really wanna read Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce!! *-* wow! And GAIMAN's version, too... O.o

    kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

  22. Great list !!!
    I love re-telling of fairy tales.



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