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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Fairy Tales I Think Everyone Should Have on Their Shelves

I don't often have a chance to participate in Top Ten Tuesday (partly because I'm lazy; mostly because I forget), and when I do, I prefer to vlog it. But I didn't have a chance to do so, so this time around, it's a straight forward TTT post.

Well...mostly straight forward. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is 10 Books You Recommend Most, but Bonnie and I are altering it a bit to be top 10 fairy tale retellings (and I'm going one further with not just the ones I recommend the most, but the ones I think you should give up precious shelf space for). These are not necessarily my personal favorites (although many are!). No; much as I gave you tales for different types of readers in this month's Book Chat, for this I decided to give you a well-rounded collection.  A broad selection (that yes, is technically more than 10 books*) that will be a great go-to shelf for any fairy tale lover or newbie wanting to dive in. The first half of the list represents sections of tales to cover all bases, and the 2nd 1/2 represents the ones you should just have, full stop - you should have them.

So without further dudes,** here are my picks.

* Where there are multiple books listed for any reason, you could just choose the one that appeals to you most, and then you'd have 10. Of course, if you wanted more... ;)
**Peter Griffin, yall.

All of the books are linked - click the picture to find out more about it or add it to your wishlist!

10. This is my pick for uber-traditional tale. It has all the bells and whistles of a fairy tale - it's essentially the exact story you remember watching in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. And when I read this, I was actually put off by that, because I was like, "WAIT A MINUTE - she totally ripped off the movie!" That is, until I realized this book came first, and Disney totally jacked her telling. I mean, it's an old, old tale, and many of the elements have always been there, but I swear to you, the movie is practically a play by play of McKinley's classic retelling.

9. One of the advantages of a good fairy tale retelling is that it transports you to a different time and place.  Whether it's the height of Cromwell-crazy England, dark and lush forests of bygone Romania, or an Industrial Revolution-era mill town, these retellings have some of the best, most richly detailed and glorious settings.

8. But not all fairy tales are set in castles and courtyards of the past; sometimes you need a modern twist. There are many, many out there - and some you probably don't realize are retellings - but these, from Jackson Pearce's edgy, modern supernatural takes to Alex Flinn's light, fun retellings, to Carolyn Turgeon's adult, complex magical realist spin,  represent a good cross-section of what a contemporary retelling has to offer.
It also doesn't hurt to have something that takes a tale beyond modern into the future, and spins it on its head - so don't pass up the Lunar Chronicles!

7. Don't always get bogged down in all the Cinderellas and Snow Whites! Or, if you're going to, try checking them out in different settings. While Bound may be a Cinderella retelling, its ancient Chinese setting lovingly researched and recreated, adds so much to the tale in terms of tradition and atmosphere. Book of 1000 Days is a retelling of the little-known tale "Maid Maleen" set on the sweeping Asian steppes, and Anahita's Woven Riddle, richly evokes ancient Persian culture, and though not directly a fairy tale retelling, has a lot of the hallmarks of a fairy tale, and is reminiscent of the myth of Penelope's shroud-weaving in the Odyssey.
6. It doesn't hurt to have a graphic novel in the collection, especially ones like these, that look at the old tales with fresh eyes. Castle Waiting is a funny, feminist, clever and highly engaging look at the side characters of the old tales, and Fables is a modern noir take. [And don't let "feminist" scare you off, folks. There's nothing pushy or over the top about this book, but its take on the tales is fresh and strong.]

5.Everyone's so afraid of short stories, and that makes my heart frown. But let me be clear: you really can't go wrong with a Datlow/Windling-edited anthology, and this one just happens to be my favorite. I picked it up on a whim over 10 years ago, and I love it just as fiercely as I did then. Bonus: it introduced me to a lot of amazing authors I'd never read before.

4. This could have easily gone under #7, because this is a Cinderella take set in feudal Japan. But it is so much more than just that, and there's so much depth and power to this story, that it really deserved its own number (and a spot on your shelves).
3. I want these on your shelves because I want to talk to you about them. These are 2 tales that just wormed their way into my heart and lodged there, and I want everyone to read them and love them with me. =D

2.Speaking of powerful, this middle grade retelling of The Snow Queen took my breath away. This deserves a spot on your shelves, my shelves, and school shelves across this country (and any English-speaking one, for that matter - and if its been translated, those too).

1.Not everone loves this, and I know that. I can even understand why. But if you tell me you don't, be prepared for me to try to convince you WHY YOU'RE WRONG, because you clearly are. This is phenomenal on the retelling front, but beyond that, it is powerful and atmospheric, with one of the most memorable main characters I've ever read, and THE best romance, period. Not the most perfect romance, or the most romantic romance, but the best, most flutter-inducing, uglycry-worthy, my-butterflies-have-butterflies romance. And I say this after many rereads - it still gives me butterflies.

Click here to go back to the Fairy Tale Fortnight Main Page,
where you can access the schedule! Or go here to get involved!
Credit to these awesome Deviants for our button [ 12 & 3]!


  1. Great choices. I loved The Princess Curse and Cinder. I need to read some of the others. Thanks for spotlighting them.

  2. What a neat list! I've only read Cinder and a few of Alex Flynn's, so I will definitely check out some more of these. :)

  3. As intrigued as I am by fairy tales, I'm sorry to say I haven't read any of these. Breadcrumbs looks like a good place for me to start--I've encountered it three times this week, and everyone knows three times is a charm.

    Great list and fun post!

  4. I'll have to check out the four I haven't read, since I liked all the others you mentioned... which leads me to believe that I will like them also. So many books, so little time! But I've read all the top five you have and I loved your #3s, too! I will talk about them with you any time! Delightful!

    I'm with you on Daughter of the Forest, as well -- but I love EVERYTHING she's ever written. Except one that I only just really liked.

  5. So many books that look so amazing. I want to just read them all right now. I working on another post for fairy tale fortnight right now.


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