This week marks the 212th birthday of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
His fairy tales have gripped the imaginations of children and adults alike for well over a century. So much so that we keep coming back to them again and again. We just can’t get enough. Perhaps the tale that has captured our hearts the most is Ariel’s, the Little Mermaid who dreams of living on land. With a new live-action film based on Andersen’s original tale to be released later this year, and a Disney live-action film in the pipeline, it seems as if we’ll never lose our enthusiasm for this and other fantastic tales. Authors aren’t immune to the allure of these magical stories either, and they too revisit them, adding their own twists to the tales.
So, here are five fairy tale retellings to read:
1. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
In The Bloody Chamber, fairy tales take a darker turn. Familiar stories like Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty are almost unrecognizable in these gothic retellings that take place in austere castles and dark, secluded woods. The women in these stories take control of their own lives and aren’t afraid of opening doors that were meant to stay closed.
2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
What if Cinderella wasn’t a human at all, but a gifted cyborg living in New Beijing? In this first installment of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles, the heroine we know so well is thrown into a futuristic world. Pumpkins are replaced with hovercrafts, glass slippers with robotic feet, and a deadly plagued threatens to consume the city.
Check our review of Cinder here!
3. Snow, Boy, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
Snow White is brought into the 1950s America in Helen Oyeyemi’s retelling, but this is not Snow’s story. Boy moves from New York to Flax Hill, a small town in Massachusetts, in search of a new life. In Flax Hill, she finds Arturo Whitman, a widower with a young daughter named Snow. After marrying Arturo, Boy falls pregnant with his child, and her resentment towards the beguiling young Snow begins to surface. When Bird is born, the Whitman’s family secrets are revealed. Snow, Boy, Bird is an unique tale told from the perspective of the evil stepmother.
4. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
The world is divided by a wall, separating faeries and humans. To the south lives a young woman named Feyre, whose family is struggling to get by. To survive, Feyre has become a huntress. On one of her hunts she kills a wolf in order to claim its prey, but the killing has repercussions she couldn’t have predicted.
As punishment for killing a faerie, Feyre must live out her life in the faerie kingdom, but during her time in captivity she discovers a curse lies over the land and its inhabitants. Can she break the spell?
Check our review of this one here!
5. Drown by Esther Dalseno
Mermaids are more animalistic than human in Esther Dalseno’s Drown. They have no names and no emotions, living their lives below the water’s surface in the pursuit of beauty. Except there is one little mermaid who longs to live above the waves. To fulfill her dream, the little mermaid seeks out a sea-witch who helps her, but at a price. When a deadly disease threatens the existence of her species, the little mermaid must decide which is more important: the lives of those who live above the sea or those below it.