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Feminist Fairy Tales

3.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  329 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Prominent feminist author Barbara Walker has revamped, retold, and infused with life some of your favorite classic fairy tales. No longer are women submissive, helpless creatures in need of redemption through the princely male! Instead they are vibrantly alive, strong women who take fate into their own hands.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 6th 1996 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 1996)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathThe Awakening by Kate Chopin
Best Feminist Fiction
204th out of 1,042 books — 2,215 voters
Golden by Cameron DokeyDeathless by Catherynne M. ValenteBeauty Sleep by Cameron DokeyThe Storyteller's Daughter by Cameron DokeyHeart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Fairy Tale Retellings: Hidden Gems
219th out of 452 books — 845 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,119)
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Chris
Talk about preachy. Honestly, if these are feminist retellings of fairy tales then why are most of the helpers still male? Why can’t some of the dwarves, for instance, be female dwarves? It’s great that the Queen helps Snow, but seriously all male dwarves? And why are most of the men in the stories undeserving idiots? Why not totally reverse the beauty and the beast theme, instead of making them both ugly, and the beast still a jerk?
And how come every woman seems to be wearing a dress, and is wh
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Amanda
Apr 27, 2012 Amanda rated it did not like it
I love reading feminist texts, and I love reworked fairy tales, but what I hate are trite, simplistic, over the top attempts that have a petty vindictive streak of self-righteous spite.

I get that this is old, and that feminism has come a long way, but ugh, it was painful.

The noticeable lack of trans and queer folk was also glaring, and the illustrations where all white folks except for two stories that were explicitly set in specific cultures.
Dorer002
Jan 24, 2013 Dorer002 rated it did not like it
I thought the first couple stories were okay, and then I got tired of reading about the cauldron and the crone and how wonderful and wise women are (even when they actually are depicted as petty, passive, and stupid in many stories). Plus, just about every story was about the beautiful and dainty women succeeding or finding love, even though the author is always talking about finding someone clever and thoughtful. The Cinderella retelling was exactly the same as the regular Cinderella, except in ...more
ZQ
Jul 02, 2016 ZQ rated it did not like it
This book was a deeply, deeply unpleasant read.

I love fairy tale retelling anthologies, particularly ones that cover a wide variety of cultures and history. But these stories were all dull as drainwater or or very offensive. Each one read like a parody, like fairy tales deliberately written in an overly preachy and silly manner to mock people being offended by actual folklore.

The first few stories were harmless enough, if nonsensical. As the stories progress though, they get increasingly disturb
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Emelinemimie
Oct 19, 2011 Emelinemimie rated it did not like it
I already thought from the title that it was a bit too much and really it was. How could the author genuinely believe that simply by adding an old goddess to the original fairy tales without changing anything else (the women are still as passive as they used to be really) would make her tales feminist?
Emily
Apr 05, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: z-gslis-804-01
Stories Read:

The Gargoyle, The Littlest Mermaid, The Frog Princess




'the gargoyle,' from 'feminist fairy tales' by barbara walker
i’m reading a short story about a gargoyle. in the story, the outside gargoyles look down on the inside statues because they are lame and can’t move about at night and shit. what follows is amazing:

"but the gargoyles had noticed that the indoor statues didn’t seem to have any power of nocturnal locomotion, even though some of them had wings. so they thought themselves
...more
Nitya Sivasubramanian
May 24, 2007 Nitya Sivasubramanian rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2star
In a world where Spiderman's girlfriend hasn't even picked up the tiniest clue about defending herself and not walking down dark alleys, it's refreshing to come across a Red Riding Hood who takes down two lecherous woodsmen and a wise stepmother who uses her magic to protect her stepdaughter, Snow White. A few of the stories are a bit nauseating in their desire to show women in the best light (hell, we've all got flaws), but all in all, this collection is a fun little read about ass-kicking wome ...more
Gehayi
Jun 28, 2016 Gehayi rated it did not like it
Shelves: deserves-a-zero
Let me start by saying that I love fairy tales from all over the world. I love reading revised ones; I savor new and original ones. I've received a number as gifts, and I've written more than a few as well. This is a genre that I have loved for decades and that is very, very close to my heart.

So please believe me when I say that Walker's tales were utterly enraging and made me explode like the Tsar Bomba.

Warning: spoilers follow. Lots and lots of spoilers.





Among the family-unfriendly Aesops in th
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Sarah
Feb 22, 2015 Sarah added it
Feminist Fairytales by Barbara G. Walker is a collection of fantasy short stories. Barbara retells classic fairytales with a twist. She makes the female characters able to take care of themselves and not rely on male assistance. It's a pretty slow paced book because of its formatting, but that's also what makes it so easy to follow.
I really enjoyed the style of writing the author used. It was very refreshing to read a fairytale where the female protagonist was strong-willed and headstrong. The
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Bridgett
Mar 17, 2009 Bridgett rated it really liked it
This collection covered quite a number of stories and I liked the twists. A lot of stories seemed more realistic (such as The Frog Princess). I liked the lessons that were learned.
Melanti
Too heavy handed on the feminist aspects.
Tati Dengo
Jun 24, 2016 Tati Dengo rated it liked it
What I enjoyed about this book is the guarantee that the female characters could be of note for more than their unsurpassable beauty, as is their most common function in traditional fairy tales.

What I didn't exactly love was the outdated version of Feminism where the story behaves with an affront towards the male gender as a whole. It's not a battle. You don't have to bring one gender down to send the other one up; that's missing the point of gender stereotyping.

What I DID love about this book
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Ani
May 13, 2008 Ani rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own
This book holds a series of short stories which are basically a new modern and feminist spin on old fairy tales. Do you know Beauty and the Beast? Of course you do, but what about Ugly and the Beast? Do you know Snow White? What about Snow Night? Little White Riding Hood? The Littlest Mermaid? Cinder-Helle? The Three Little Pinks? This book sheds a light on fairy tales that will no longer have your girls think, 'I'm the damsel in distress, where's my prince charming?' but dare them to think, 'I' ...more
Laura Stuart
Aug 09, 2014 Laura Stuart rated it it was ok
Retelling these fairy tales from a "feminist" standpoint is an interesting concept. However, it falls flat in Feminist Fairy Tales. After a while every story seemed to be men are violent brutes, beauty is still a woman's greatest asset, and Christianity is bad. It missed the mark on trying to achieve a pro-feminist message, but gets a condescending pat on the back for trying.
HeavyReader
Nov 03, 2014 HeavyReader rated it liked it
Recommends it for: feminists and their kids
Shelves: young-adult, feminist
Warning: Not all of these stories are suitable for all little kids. Even though these are feminist fairy tales, there is often still violence (often against women, although the women do defend themselves in a variety of ways). Also, there is some sex; no explicit sex, but some mentions of "love-making." Parents may want to read these stories themselves first, before sharing them with kids.

All that said, this is a great collection of traditional stories, all told with nontraditional, positive twi
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Kelli
The words that best describe this book are enjoyable and amusing. It's a collection of new or retold fairy tales from a, you guessed it, feminist perspective. As such, most of the main characters are female, the deities are usually goddesses, the damsel in distress model is replaced with capable characters, and the menfolk can be cast aside a bit. It's clear that this book was more of a discussion piece than an attempt at great writing. It's often tongue-in-cheek and self-aware, purposely silly ...more
Virginia
Sep 09, 2012 Virginia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Especially girls
Shelves: read-fantasy
Very interesting read. Well researched and presented.
Familiar stories with a new twist or entirely new stories.

I've heard the theory before that fairy tales skew the emotional expectations of our young.
Being particularly fond of fairy tales, I'd been reluctant to think too much about that theory but i did recognize the truth in it.
I have to wonder if it starts out innocently enough..."it's just a story" or "wouldn't it be nice if"?
And then we end up with a whole genre of "boy saves girl" and
...more
Ruby Ridge
Jan 26, 2016 Ruby Ridge rated it liked it
A disappointing book, not because it is a bad book, it isn't but it could have been so much more. Not really recommended
Theresa
Sep 17, 2015 Theresa rated it it was ok
some were fun! some were stupid! an entertaining little romp.
Maria
Awful Awful Awful! I have never read a book that is so opposite of feminism. No intersectionality, still holds up the virgin dichotomy, most stories the girls were described as dainty, white and beautiful from a male characters point of view. Main characters have very little agency. You can be critical of religions like Christianity whilst respecting those of faith and the author was incredibly disrespectful. Her version feminism was incredibly ham fisted and the writing was awful.
Shira
May 31, 2012 Shira rated it really liked it
Walker did well to present a mix of classic and original fairy tales with a diverse cast of heroines. There are girls who are apologetically ugly, girls who don't choose the prince at the end of the book, and young women who ultimately do decide to follow a more conventional path (marrying and having babies). Something so amorphous as modern day feminism is hard to convey, but each story was able to contribute to a better understanding of its inclusiveness.
Louanne
Feb 07, 2016 Louanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic! Will definitely read to my own children one day! A great fun read, a few weird sentences but on the whole a pleasure to read!
Nathalie
Jan 11, 2016 Nathalie rated it really liked it
Some of the stories are pretty flat, and not very feministic. Feminists wants equality between the sexes, not that women are superior to men. And in some of these stories the male characters are incredibly boring and flat, it's sort of degrading towards men, like a lot of fairy tales are degrading towards women. And it's not okay either Way. Not that impressed, but still refreshing to see the stereotype of "passive heroine" transformed.
Erika
It was nice to come across some new fairy tales I hadn't encountered before, even if they were reworked to show feminism. Some of the tales were so feminist, sometimes I wasn't sure if this book was serious or a well-written joke, like Ala Dean. That story ends too fantastical to enjoy.

The research into the fairy tale lore to find the tales was well done though.
Karla
Aug 08, 2012 Karla rated it did not like it
I did not enjoy this collection of fairy tales. I thought I would. It would be interesting for use in exploring the culture of so-called feminism. The author provides her thoughts on each tale before she recounts the stories. I struggled with the atheism and the lack of morality and the women-are-better-than-men theme.
Elizabeth Desole
Dec 06, 2010 Elizabeth Desole rated it did not like it
Well I actually didn't finish this because it was so annoying. I love a fairy tale revision, but at the beginning of all of them she gave a really boring explanation of why she wrote it. The worst part was that they were very uncreative. And the heroines that I did read about were ridiculous
Rebecca Waring-Crane
Mar 20, 2009 Rebecca Waring-Crane rated it did not like it
I enjoy fairy tales and I am a feminist but after four of these stories I'd had enough of this book. Retelling traditional tales well takes subtlety and skill, both of which Walker's writing lacks. Lavine gets it right with "Fairest" and "Ella Enchanted."
Bonnie
Jun 30, 2009 Bonnie rated it did not like it
I enjoy reading different versions of fairy tales, but Barbara Walker misses the mark. Although she makes ancient feminist references at the beginning of each tale, the telling of the stories are simplistic and transparent. Not recommended.
Kelly
Jan 19, 2009 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, fiction
I read at least one story a night before bed and sometimes I snuck some in on my lunch hour during the week. What a great collection of fairy tales! If only these were the types of tales parents read to their young girls...
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Barbara Walker studied journalism at the University of Pennsylvania and then took a reporting job at the Washington Star in DC. During her work as a reporter, she became increasingly interested in feminism and women's issues.

Her writing career has been split between knitting instruction books, produced in the late 1960s through the mid-80s; and women's studies and mythology books, produced from t
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