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Goodread author promotions > 100 Must-Read Fairytale Retellings

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message 1: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
Hi everyone!

As some of you may know, I write for Book Riot. I recently put together a list of 100 fairytale retellings for the cite, and I'd love to know what you think and what you would add! I'm also working on one that will compile 50 children's and middle grade fairytale retellings. So suggestions there are welcome! Particularly if they're by authors of color.

Here's the link to my 100 post: https://bookriot.com/2018/05/01/must-...


message 2: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey | 84 comments I saw this when it went up the other day, and thought it was an excellent list! I think I've read... 23 of them? So I've got plenty still to get to. :)

I'd maybe add Spindle's End, Rose Daughter, Cruel Beauty, Crimson Bound, and The Phoenix Dance.

As for children's and middle grade, I'm much less sure. I remember reading a bunch as a kid, but I don't know how well they hold up, and most of the middle grade fantasy I'm reading right now is more original than retellings. Grace Lin's books come to mind though, and also Baba Yaga's Assistant, which is a graphic novel.


message 3: by Asaria (last edited May 04, 2018 04:25AM) (new)

Asaria | 681 comments Plenty of good titles, even if a bit too English centric for my taste. It's not bad per se, but other countries are slowly catching up on the fairy tale craze :)
The Burned Tower by Marina Dyachenko and Sergey Dyachenko (Ukraine) - far away echoes of Pied piper of Hamelin. It's pity their fairy tale-inspired books are unavailable to you. Beautiful, lyrical prose.

Doruntine by Ismail Kadare (Albania) - retelling of Albanian folk song

Arabian Nights and Days by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt) - realistic take on Scheherezade's story. Hint: She hates the sultan

Rhadopis of Nubia by Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt)- retelling of Rhodopis, sometimes considered one of the oldest Cinderella. I'd call this one similar to Emile Zola's Nana.

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (Poland) - I remain stubbornly unrepentant in promoting this book here. While the translation might be servicable at best and doesn't match the original, that's enough to show the creative way Sapkowski filtered Grimm fairy tales through slavic, morally ambiguous point of view. Polish version is one of my favourite short story collections

None other Polish retellings were translated like Świteź or Mrs Twardowska from Adam Mickiewicz. The latter is fun! Twardowski, like Faust, made a deal with devil. Mephisto fullfiled his part, but the wizard? Nope, and luckly for him, and to the chargrin of devil, he was a cunning sort, who put a catch in the contract. The devil before claiming his soul must fullfill three task 1) He can claim Twardowski soul only in Rome - who said it must be The Rome, though? 2. Fullfill some other, impossible quest. In the end Twardowski won, because Devil couldn't do the last task - living a year with Twardowski's wife, Mrs Twardowska! And as they say since that time he has been running away. And the wizard? Well, he can't die, thus remains on the Moon to be sure, because he can't go to Heaven, and hell isn't the most attractive place.

I'll move to English ones.

Keturah and Lord Death (YA) - I have a thing for characters that use their storyspinning abilities to save their lifes. Basically Scheherezade deals with Death himself here. You'd say it's a love story, or getting ready for your own death, and on both counts you will be right.

A Thousand Nights (YA) - As I've written somewhere, my favourite retelling of Scheherezade's frame story

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman - possibly the only work by this author I truly liked. Dark retelling of Snow White from the Queen's point of view

Imperial Lady (YA) by Andre Norton and Susan Schwartz - I'm not sure, but it's probably one of rare cases, when American writers got the mindset and setting right. Retelling of Chinese folk legend, with heroine's friend being fox.

Chalice (YA) by Robin McKinley. Faraway echoes of Beauty and the Beast. My favourite take from this writer.

Book of a Thousand Days (YA) by Shannon Hale - Retelling of Maid Maleen

If myths are OK:
Dragon Sword and Wind Child (YA)- retelling of episode from Kojiki
The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold - not liked by me, but raved after by the rest of the world


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Chapek | 230 comments What a nice idea. I'd like to suggest the old but awfully good Tam Lin variation: The Perilous Gard.


message 5: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
Ooo, what great suggestions everyone. Now I'll respond to each individually!

Kelsey wrote: "I saw this when it went up the other day, and thought it was an excellent list! I think I've read... 23 of them? So I've got plenty still to get to. :)

I'd maybe add Spindle's End, [b..."


Great choices! I just went with one McKinley, but probably should've had another. On my first draft of the list I had Cruel Beauty, but ended up cutting it because I thought I had too many Beauty and the Beast retellings.

I LOVE Grace Lin and she'll definitely be on the list. I've never heard of that graphic novel, and I'm checking it out of the library!

Asaria wrote: "Plenty of good titles, even if a bit too English centric for my taste. It's not bad per se, but other countries are slowly catching up on the fairy tale craze :)
[book:The Burned Tower|13102208] by..."


I agree -- it's too Western a list. It's a weakness in my reading -- I need to read more translated works. Thanks so much for these recommendations! I especially wish I'd thought of the Mahfouz, since those are pretty easily available. I'm going to check ALL these books out though.

I didn't include Snow Glass Apples because I went with Sleeper in the Spindle instead, but I do love that one! And I will definitely read A Thousand Nights.

Robyn wrote: "For children's books, my children and I all loved the trilogy by Adam Gidwitz.
A Tale Dark & Grimm
In a Glass Grimmly
The Grimm Conclusion."


I've seen those come into the bookstore I work at. I will check them out!

Susan wrote: "What a nice idea. I'd like to suggest the old but awfully good Tam Lin variation: The Perilous Gard."

I will check it out! I've heard of it but haven't read it.


message 6: by Asaria (last edited May 04, 2018 03:38AM) (new)

Asaria | 681 comments Margaret wrote: "I agree -- it's too Western a list. It's a weakness in my reading -- I need to read more translated works. Thanks so much for these recommendations! I especially wish I'd thought of the Mahfouz, since those are pretty easily available. I'm going to check ALL these books out though.

I didn't include Snow Glass Apples because I went with Sleeper in the Spindle instead, but I do love that one! And I will definitely read A Thousand Nights."


You're welcome. I hope you'll enjoy them :).

As for reading translations, that's all right, I think, considering how many English speaking countries there are and you've got plenty authors of your own in the States. Having robust publishing industry also helps.


message 7: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 4539 comments Mod
Margaret wrote: "Hi everyone!

As some of you may know, I write for Book Riot. I recently put together a list of 100 fairytale retellings for the cite, and I'd love to know what you think and what you would add! I..."


Wow, we should put THIS list on our next challenge!
Most of my favourites are already on it.
And there are many I have not read.
Thanks for posting!


message 8: by Leah (new)

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments I'm SOOOO happy you included The Changeling by Victor LaValle. It was in my Top 5 of 2017 and it's listed #1 in my list for a reason. :) Seriously, I think many of our group members would enjoy this retelling which centers a young Black couple, living in the city, dealing with a nightmare scenario, and all the while dealing with (maybe) magical forces.

(And thank you for including the link re: transphobia in Boy, Snow Bird. The "big reveal" / ending was one of the biggest reading disappointments I've ever had. Probably because everything up till that point was nearing a 5-star read for me.)

For children's recs, I'd like to toss out some picture books I loved:

The Mitten: An Old Ukrainian Folktale
Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs
Little Roja Riding Hood
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

For middle grade books, I'm going to suggest:

Any retellings by Gail Carson Levine
The League of Princes series by Christopher Healy


message 9: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "I'm SOOOO happy you included The Changeling by Victor LaValle. It was in my Top 5 of 2017 and it's listed #1 in my list for a reason. :) Seriously, I think many of ..."

I loved The Changeling and wish more people would read it. It would make a great group read.

I almost didn't include Boy Snow Bird at all, but then I do really like the books. So I included the link instead, because it is a book with a lot of worthwhile content.

I just read Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs to Marian the other day! I will definitely check the others out.


message 10: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 4539 comments Mod
By the way Margaret, the story about you as a little girl telling your kindergarten teacher that your mom cooked you in the oven is hilarious! 🤣
I've been chuckling about this all day!


message 11: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
Lila wrote: "By the way Margaret, the story about you as a little girl telling your kindergarten teacher that your mom cooked you in the oven is hilarious! 🤣
I've been chuckling about this all day!"


:) She probably would've been turned into social services today. It's the only time she ever spanked me (I don't remember the spanking, but it's part of the story).


message 12: by Leah (new)

Leah (flying_monkeys) | 1009 comments Hey Margaret,

I'm working on cleaning out my to-read list here on GR and discovered a middle grade book I'd added in July 2017 but I'd forgotten about. You may wanna check it out:

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste


message 13: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "Hey Margaret,

I'm working on cleaning out my to-read list here on GR and discovered a middle grade book I'd added in July 2017 but I'd forgotten about. You may wanna check it out:

[book:The Jumbi..."


That looks perfect, thanks!


message 14: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
I completely forgot to post about it, but here's my 50 Best Fairytale Retellings for Children list -- includes middle grade and picture books. https://bookriot.com/2018/08/09/must-...

It was a lot of fun to research! I love reading picture books. It's too bad my daughter is going through a "I want to rip pages" phase!

Does anyone have any favorite fairytale picture books?


message 15: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3767 comments Mod
I should've come back to this post when I made my final list. I missed some of y'all's recommendations!


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