Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books for People Who Love ______. (I chose Fairy Tales.)
I tried to put these in order, but I just couldn’t. However, pulling this post together made me realize how many of these wonderful books I haven’t reviewed yet. (Click on title links to see the books I have reviewed.)
Beauty (Robin McKinley) One of the first novel-length YA fairytale retellings, and one of the best. If you’ve seen Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, they seriously cribbed some ideas from her – but hers is way better. (I’m rather fond of Disney’s version, so that’s saying something.) You might also enjoy Rose Daughter, McKinley’s second and somewhat darker interpretation of the same fairy tale, written at least 20 years later.
The Perilous Gard (Elizabeth Marie Pope) A wonderful YA re-imagining of Tam Lin, set in Tudor England. A great book for a YA book group; you can argue about whether the Lady does or does not use magic.
Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress (Marissa Meyer) SF re-imaginings of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. These are so wonderful! Meyer weaves elements of the traditional fairy tales into a wholly new and original story. I particularly love what Meyer does to subvert gender stereotypes. I can’t wait for Winter, coming in fall! (And I suppose I should read Fairest even if I don’t care at all for Levana. . . )
The Ordinary Princess (M. M. Kaye) An original and utterly charming fairy tale about a princes who is, well, ordinary. I guarantee you will fall in love with both the princess and the man-of-all-work. Do try to find the version with illustrations by Kaye herself; they are just perfect for the story.
Spindle’s End (Robin McKinley) Beautifully written, McKinley’s retelling of Sleeping Beauty has a far-from-helpless (or for that matter, somnolent) princess and a wonderful cast of characters. It’s one of my favorite books of all time.
Princess of the Midnight Ball (Jessica Day George) My favorite of the 12 Dancing Princesses retellings, both because I love the main character and because it gives some of the princesses more depth and makes their predicament more dire than the original version. There are two sequels, Princess of Glass and Princess of the Silver Woods, which I enjoyed very much, but this first book is the best.
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (Patricia McKillip) This was my introduction to McKillip, way back in high school, and though the details have faded, I’ve never forgotten it. (I re-read it a few years ago; it was just as good as I remembered.) The writing is gorgeous and mysterious, and everything about it feels like a grownup fairy tale, but the story is totally original.
The Serpent’s Shadow, The Gates of Sleep, Phoenix and Ashes (Mercedes Lackey) Lackey has an entire series called Elemental Masters, in which she reenvisions fairy tales and folk tales in a version of our own Victorian/Edwardian/WWI world, but with elemental magic. These three are the best. (Other books in the series I’ve reviewed include Home from the Sea, Steadfast, Blood Red, and the short story collection Elemental Magic.)
Once Upon a Winter’s Night (Dennis L. McKiernan) A retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, very much expanded and with a smattering of other fairytale elements and myths sprinkled in, and told in a somewhat archaic fairytale style. It’s quite fun, and has the merit of being one of the few retellings intended for adults.
The Light Princess (George MacDonald) An original story about a Princess cursed to be without gravity (in both senses of the word.) I particularly love the picture book version illustrated by William Pene du Bois.
Once Upon a Marigold (Jean Ferris)
Melisande (E. Nesbit, illustrated by Patrick Lynch)
Snow White and Rose Red (Patricia Wrede)