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General SF&F Chat > Fairy Tale Retellings

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message 1: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments I've read a few fairy tale retellings and they seem popular (Hansel and Gretal, several Snow White versions for example).

What do you think of them? Have you read any/written any?

message 2: by Diana (new)

Diana Gotsch | 27 comments I enjoy them. They are usually a fairly light read filled with humor. Some of the best blend the fair tale into the real world. I also like the Merecedes Lackey five hundred kingdoms series. Not exactly classic fantasy or classic fairy tale but often funny.

message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments I've read scads. There's a wide variety.

There are those that retell a single fairy tale, and within that group there are those that tell one of the Top Twenty Tales that everyone knows, and those that tell more obscure ones. The first group the author can play with the story, knowing that you will know that the stepmother is usually the villain and Snow White the heroine, and so you are inverting it; the downside is that you have to do something new and different because they are so well-known. The second you can retell straight.

Then there are the ones with the many tales colliding. There are those that use the Top Twenty only, and invariably turn comic because there's no other way when all the characters know they're in one of only twenty or so tales that have been happening incessantly. If, on the other hand, the writer has clearly read all of Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, all of Joseph Jacobs, all of Andrew Lang, and all of Peter Christian Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe, it can get more serious because situations are more in doubt.

message 4: by Ben (new)

Ben Rowe (benwickens) | 430 comments I love collections of fairy tales and folk tales. In terms of re-imaginings, reworkings then it depends a bit on my mood, their agenda (if any) and how well they are done.

message 5: by Sadie (new)

Sadie Forsythe | 8 comments Honestly, I'm not a fan. I've read a few and never been all that impressed. I think of them in the same category as fan fiction (which I also don't care for) since the author isn't creating their own characters or story.

message 6: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments There are a lot with on them. Some are fun if you take them for what they are.

message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather | 5 comments Sadie wrote: "Honestly, I'm not a fan. I've read a few and never been all that impressed. I think of them in the same category as fan fiction (which I also don't care for) since the author isn't creating their o..."

Sometimes they can be fun. Some use imagery to suggest a story. Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood are common motifs in mainstream media. "The Princess Diaries" movie could be seen as a kind of Cinderella-story.

message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 2227 comments Bedtime Stories: A Collection of Erotic Fairy Tales by Jean Johnson is quite good. Not my typical read, but I really liked it & gave it 4 stars. My review lists the different stories.

message 9: by Daran (new)

Daran | 73 comments I've been working on a retelling of the Firebird off and on for several years. I also have to admit that while I didn't like Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, I did like Wicked.

message 10: by Michele (new)

Michele | 274 comments The best ones get very creative, using the fairytale plot as a guideline or filling out the basic story in unique ways.

Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, Kara Dalkey's The Nightingale, Robin McKinley's Deerskin - all excellent stories in their own right.

message 11: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments Disney's been taking a free hand for several flicks, and probably could have come closer without ruining any of them.

Anyway, there being hundreds of thousands of fairy tales collected, they can't be scraping the barrel yet. Not bothering to look far, I grant you.

message 12: by Heather (new)

Heather | 5 comments Mary wrote: "Disney's been taking a free hand for several flicks, and probably could have come closer without ruining any of them.

Anyway, there being hundreds of thousands of fairy tales collected, they can't..."

That was the point I was actually intending. If they wanted a black Disney princess, why not pick one of Africa's very rich and under-appreciated oral tradition? The music for Princess and the Frog was very good and pretty spot-on, but so many liberties to put it in the South...

message 13: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments Considering how distant it was from both The Frog King and The Frog Princess -- they were taking a few tropes and making a new tale.

OTOH, the publication of The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales produced a noticeable change in the folk tales told in Japan. Fairy tales really get around. Plumping one in Africa would be nothing more than following the folk tradition.

message 14: by Heather (new)

Heather | 5 comments Was anyone else a bit letdown by Zelena in Once Upon a Time? Her being literally green with envy was pretty nifty, but the way the show works I was expecting her father to be someone recognizable, the frog prince, perhaps. I had been trying all season to remember which fairy tale men were green or had an aversion to water.

Neither of those iconic qualities of the Wicked Witch turn out to be particularly important. And then they take her out pretty easily.

After Pan I was hoping we'd see what someone's spell would look like. I kinda wanted to see what world Pan imagined, what Zelena's alternate timeline would look like, etc.

Although silver slippers instead of ruby was quite refreshing.

Anyone else know they're silver in the book?

message 15: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments Oh yes. I never saw the movie until quite recently, but I've read the books. (Note: now there's a series that goes downhill hard.)

message 16: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments I am slowly writing blog posts about the influence of fantasy in our society and I think fairy tales are part of this.

message 17: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas | 46 comments Not too familiar with many fairy tales outside of Disney, at least not to my awareness. Fairy tales though I don't have a huge interest in. I prefer them old classic nursery rhymes over most fairy tales.

message 18: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments A.L. wrote: "I am slowly writing blog posts about the influence of fantasy in our society and I think fairy tales are part of this."

Well, such fairy tales as we notice. I think there's about twenty tales we can count on people recognizing. The Brothers Grimm alone included 200 in their collection.

message 19: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments Yes, that is true. Could it be argued nursery rhymes are a form of fairy tales?

I read the Grimm collection last year, some of them are disturbing! Great though

message 20: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments Well, they are definitely in the same folk tradition.

Try Andrew Lang if you want a notion of the possibilities.

message 21: by Randolph (new)

Randolph (us227381) | 13 comments Try some of Angela Carter's short stories. Her book The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories takes fairy tales from their patriarchal bias into a world where the woman's perspective is primary.

message 22: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments For retellings, this lists include many:

message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 21, 2014 07:32AM) (new)

I thought I would mention Catherynne Valente's Six-Gun Snow White, one of this year's Hugo and Nebula Award nominees. Retails something almost but not quite the Snow White story set in the American Olde West as a sort of feminist manifesto.

message 24: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments Sounds...intriguing.

message 25: by Marie (new)

Marie (naturechild02) The graphic novels FABLES are pretty fun as far as a twist on the well known fairy tales. When I first started watching Once Upon A Time, I just knew that's where they got the idea!
Disney is way off with all their versions of fairy tales. I would love to see them try to spin The Goose Girl without any kind of violence! Challenge!

message 26: by Xdyj (last edited Jun 22, 2014 01:59PM) (new)

Xdyj | 418 comments Catherynne Valente's In the Night Garden & In the Cities of Coin and Spice are quite good. And Dubravka Ugrešić's Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, though probably not retelling in the strict sense, is also beautifully written & quite interesting. Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry also contains some fairytale retellings. Neil Gaiman and Tanith Lee have also done a number of fairytale retellings, some of them are quite good imho.

message 27: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments There's a lot of possibilities of working with fairy tales beside retelling one, straight. There's putting a twist on it, and then there's going either way -- putting the story in a setting where fairy tales are always happening (in some versions, where maybe three or four fairytale types are all that exist), or merely using a few tropes lifted from fairy tales in a tale that doesn't follow the structure.

message 28: by Trine (new)

Trine Paulsen | 22 comments I love fairy tale re-tellings. fairy tales are mythic, archetypale narratives, which also means that they are open to endless variation.

I love Pamela Dean's re-telling of Tam Lin. I haven't read Angela Carter yet but she's on my list. There's another book that I also want to read: Louise Murphy's The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, where the fairy tale has been re-imagined as a WWII story of two children hiding from the German occupation force in Poland.

Valente, Catherynne has also written some wonderful variations on fairy tales in her short stories.

message 29: by Marina (new)

Marina Finlayson | 34 comments I love fairy tales. Read the Andrew Lang books obsessively when I was young. I like retellings and re-imaginings too. Angela Carter's are good, as are the feminist ones in Don't Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England by Jack Zipes. Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels is brutal and confronting as well as magical and inventive. There are so many things you can do with fairy tales!

I wrote an update of the fairy tale "Toads and Diamonds" for Nano last year, and have never had so much fun writing a first draft. Can't wait to get back to it!

message 30: by Lane (new)

Lane (martrimc) | 1 comments Check out The Child Thief by Brom. It's a very good, albeit very dark retelling of Peter Pan.

message 32: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments Thanks. I'll have to check some of these out.

message 33: by Nerva (new)

Nerva Maximus (nerva_maximus) Has anyone read any of the 500 Kingdoms novels by Mercedes lackey? They are an interesting take on some classic fairy tales, she turned them into something far more grown up and more fantasy like but still kept a lightness about them.

message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 23, 2014 04:19AM) (new)

message 35: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments Thanks

message 36: by Nerva (new)

Nerva Maximus (nerva_maximus) Isn't that list a little ummm redundant as they are the five most well-known character types? :-) Just asking!

message 37: by Bristol (new)

Bristol Bookworm (BristolBookworm) | 11 comments I've just read Deathless which is a Russion folk/fairy tale retelling if you want something in this vein which isn't exactly the same characters.

message 38: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments Thanks

message 39: by Randolph (new)

Randolph (us227381) | 13 comments Angela Carter wrote a number of retold fairy tales from the female instead of the male perspective, which most tales are told in.

message 40: by Trine (new)

Trine Paulsen | 22 comments Mika wrote: "I've recently come across Daughter of the Forest which isn't exactly a retelling, but has elements of Snow White in it. It's very good!"

It is also heavily influenced by Hans Christian Andersen's "Wild Swans", which itself is a retelling of a fairy tale that was common in Scandinavia and Germany with different variations - either the brothers are turned into swans or ravens.

message 41: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments Oh, it's common beyond those regions. The oldest known variant is the Italian "The Seven Doves".

message 42: by A.L. (last edited Sep 09, 2014 12:39PM) (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 127 comments Retellings of retellings of retellings and so it goes on. I guess we like to suit the stories of old to our own culture.

message 43: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments True, the Victorian notion that the tales were preserved from the Paleolithic age has not stood the test of time.

message 44: by Michael (new)

Michael | 152 comments I was recently reading The Princess Novels by Jim C. Hines . It takes some famous fairy tail females (Snow White , Sleeping Beauty, etc.) and brings them together as a team. They face different adventures and opponents in each book.

Not exactly a fairy tale but on a similar vein was an anthology named Oz Reimagined edited by John Joseph Adams. In one story a grown up Dorothy has to search through the crime ridden underbelly of the Emerald City to solve a murder.

message 45: by Ally (new)

Ally (Separate Minds Book Blog) I love fairy-tale retellings. It's been awhile since I've read it, but I really enjoyed East by Edith Pattou by Edith Pattou.

message 46: by Kaylynn (new)

Kaylynn (kaycav) | 3 comments I'm not gonna go as far to say I love fairy tale retelling's all to much. The only reason i ever even picked one up was because a friend told me to read it. i can probably count on one hand how many I've read. Surprisingly i wasn't disappointed. So i strongly suggest, if you haven't read them yet, you read Snow, and Before Midnight i highly recommend these too.. Snow, is obviously a snow white retelling, and she's never been one of my favorite princess' (i find her extremely annoying and to happy.) so i don't know if you like snow white if you'd like it.

message 47: by Phil (new)

Phil Jensen | 329 comments I love the originals, and I love a good spin on them. I hate a redundant spin, though. Right now, there's a book getting big hype in the kids' lit genre called Echo that has a very boring Grimms-lite framing device that everyone but me seems to like. It does nothing new, and that bugs me.

On the other hand, I think The Goose Girl is a terribly underrated book. It takes the original story and ups the humanity so that all the characters feel real and active. I love to see new life go into an old story like that.

message 48: by Mary (new)

Mary Catelli | 746 comments My own favorites are Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (yes, "Cupid and Psyche" is a fairy tale; the same type as "East of the Sun, West of the Moon") and Beauty by Robin McKinley.

message 49: by Meran (last edited Jan 24, 2016 11:21PM) (new)

Meran | 7 comments I have a huge fairy tale collection, just love them, always have... And honestly, that's why I'm NOT a fan of what Disney has done to them. Ariel doesn't have a happy ending, you know

message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Meran wrote: "I have a huge fairy tale collection, just love them, always have... And honestly, that's why I'm NOT a fan of what Disney has done to them. Ariel doesn't have a happy ending, you know "

If you want to see a really depressing Disney animation of a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, check out "The Little Matchgirl". (It's a short, originally made to have been part of a never realized "Fantasia 3". Disney originally released it as an extra on the Little Mermaid Platinum edition 2nd DVD, and most recently it was on the Disney Short Films Collection Blu-Ray (which has a Frozen short on the cover.)

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