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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Top Ten Unfamiliar Retellings, from Debz of Debz Bookshelf!

Debz of Princess Debz Bookshelf has jumped into the Fairy Tale Fortnight festivities with both feet, posting her own schedule of FTF reviews and giveaways, and general fairy tale lovin'. But TODAY, Debz joins us here at FTF central with a guest post on her Top 10 Favorite lesser-known retellings (and some of her favorites are my favorites, too!).
Take a look through her list below, and then let us know some of yours in the comments!

As anybody who has ever interacted with me probably knows, I’m slightly obsessed with retellings of all shapes and sizes. And while I absolutely give all retellings a fair chance, I seem to have a special thing for underappreciated fairy tales being retold. I love Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella done 1,000 times over as much as the next person (okay, slightly more), but I squeal with joy whenever I hear about a retelling that’s the first of its kind. For this reason, I’ve decided to spotlight my top ten retellings of less-familiar tales.
Strands of Bronze and Gold
1. Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
Bluebeard is one of the most creeptastic fairy tales around. It’s disturbing and terrifying, but also so intriguing. This book places the classic European tale in an unexpected setting of the Southern US in the 1800’s, and so gorgeously tells this gothic horror story.
A Tale Dark & Grimm (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #1)
2. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Lots of Creepy Stories
Technically this is a retelling of the familiar Hansel and Gretel, but it is actually an incredibly unique book that essential took a bunch of different (mostly unfamiliar) tales and tied them all together. It includes entrancing tales like Faithful Johannes and Brother and Sister, as well as many other.
Tender Morsels
3. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Snow White and Rose Red
This is the only book on this list that I haven’t read, but I’ve heard from reliable sources that it’s an amazing, dark retelling of the story of Snow White and Rose Red. This fairy tale is still somewhat familiar, but it is vastly overshadowed by another Snow White tale, and usually by adolescence it has been forever forgotten about.
Book of a Thousand Days
4. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Maid Maleen
I love the story of Maid Maleen, but I love even more the version which fairy tale master Shannon Hale tells, set in a fantastical re-envisioned Mongolia. Nobody I’ve met has ever heard of this fairy tale, even those who’ve read this book! I think that’s just a complete travesty, because it’s a refreshingly different girl-in-a-tower story.
The Swan Maiden
5. The Swan Maiden by Heather Tomlinson
Swan Maidens
This retelling follows the tale pretty loosely, but gives a beautiful, in depth look at it. It is similar to the story of Swan Lake, but distinct and certainly enchanting.
The Swan Kingdom
6. The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott
The Wild Swans
More swans! This book is based on The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen, which is probably one of my favorite fairy tales, but one of his underrated stories. Marriott beautifully retells the already amazing fairy tale in a new light.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
7. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
East O’ the Sun, West O’ the Moon
This fairy tale has been gaining a little bit more recognition as of late with three amazing retellings, but this is my favorite of the three. I feel like it is the most faithful retelling, and yet the most unique. The lass in this tale is one of the strongest heroines I have yet to encounter in all of fairy tale lore. Take that fairy tale haters!
Toads and Diamonds
8. Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
Diamonds and Toads
This tale is a classic, but a surprising few are actually familiar with it. As you may have noticed I love it when these sorts of retellings are set basically anywhere but some sort of Germanic fantasy, and the setting in India is surprisingly perfect for this story.
The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)
9. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Goose Girl
The book is becoming a classic in the world of fairy tale retellings, which is surprising with how unfamiliar most people are with the tale before reading this book. It is a breathtaking reenvisioning of an exquisite--and sort of creepy--fairy tale. It’s one of those rare cases where the retelling is even better than the original because it manages to capture the pure timelessness of the tale with perfection.
10. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
The Snow Queen
This is no longer an unfamiliar fairy tale, with every child and their mom humming “Let It Go,” but before Frozen, it seemed like almost nobody knew about The Snow Queen. Breadcrumbs is a unique retelling of the tale as it replaces the classic heroes with two middle-school aged children. It’s a sweet look at love and friendship, all wrapped up in a wintry wonderland.
The Fairy's MistakeFor Biddle's SakeCinderellis and the Glass Hill
11. The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine
Bonus time! Gail Carson Levine, one of my all-time favorite authors, wrote a series of short fairy tale retellings for young readers, including the aforementioned “Diamonds and Toads,” as well as two other tales: “Puddocky” which is an interesting combination of Rapunzel and The Frog Prince, and “The Glass Hill” which shares several similarities with Cinderella, which Levine plays with in her tale. While they are juvenile, they are so clever and enjoyable.
Any other retellings of less familiar tales?
Or especially unique retellings of well-loved stories?

Click here to go back to the Fairy Tale Fortnight Main Page,
where you can access the schedule or find out more!


  1. Great list Debz! I've read about half of them and loved them. I'll have to read the other ones soon!

  2. I am kind of lucky that I had a lot of Fairytale books as a kid. A Grimms, A Hans Christian Anderson, and a few others. So I became familiar with more of these stories then I would have without them. Some of them still stumped me in A Tale Dark and Grimm so I looked them up and re-read them. All of these books are great. I especially loved how detailed the setting was in Toads and Diamonds.

  3. I have only read Breadcrumbs from the list, but I hope to read a lot of fairy tale retellings this summer and who knows some of these might be on the list. I trust your judgement with fairy tales and added the rest of these to be to read list.

  4. Almost all of those are on my reading list, but I am especially curious about Toads and Diamonds, seems so unique!

  5. I think I'm just to take this for my wish list since I haven't read any of these and only knew about two. Thank you so much, Debz!

  6. And now I've added most of these to my list. Thanks! :)
    I loved Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow....but I really liked East, as an adaptation, as well.

    My favorite is still Kill Me Softly, by Sarah Cross, which is a Bluebeard retelling with other fairytale elements. But it's amazing how many adaptations are out there!


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