It should never be a surprise to anyone that I am a fairytale nerd through and through. I’ve got countless collections of them, some far far older than I am, and I’ve read more retellings than I can probably name. (and I am currently reading the original Beauty and the Beast, finally)
Fairytales are wonderful. Stories perfect for everyone, no matter their age, they tell stories of good fighting evil and love always getting it’s happily ever after, and how sometimes magic isn’t the thing a fairy godmother creates, but what you make yourself.
So these are my top five fairytales, along with a few retellings of each.
- Beauty and the Beast.
I may not have liked the 2017 Disney film (don’t get me started) but the animated film is one of my favourite films ever, and the story itself is one I have loved since childhood, through the very interesting basic ‘first readers’ versions, all the way to more classic retellings.
I’ve always loved the story- this idea that this completely unloveble seemingly cruel person was cursed and has to find someone that would love them for who they were, and a character that is the only kind one in a family of spoilt children who end up together and both change each other for the better. It’s just so beautiful to see- in every incarnation of the story- how they learn to love each other.
A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J Maas
Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge
Beastly, Alex Finn
Beauty, Robin McKinley
- The Snow Queen
I don’t even know why I like this one so much- it’s not actually as well known as many others. Or at least, it’s now known as Frozen. But I’ve always liked fairytales where the girls are the ones that save the day and I always loved the idea of this one. A mirror that makes people turn mean, three kisses that could end in death and a friendship and so strong that a girl travels for years to look for her boy. And a kiss and tears that melt a heart and save the day. It’s just so lovely.
Cold Spell, Jackson Pearce
(and technically Stealing Snow, but my review on that tells you my thoughts)
- East of the Sun West of the Moon
Told you I liked fairytales about girls saving the day. Though, to be fair, she wouldn’t have had to if she didn’t let curiosity get the better of her. I’ve always loved this one, because the prince saw her and her family and just went okay I can help and in the normal, creepy way of fairytales, she moves in with him. You know, because talking bears are normal and everything?
Each night, a man appears in her room and never says anything. Again, fairytale creepiness that is just accepted. One day she can’t take it anymore, lights a candle and looks at him. The next morning, he is gone. And so she goes on an impossible adventure to find him. Talking to people and getting gifts (how convenient, when she needs them later), talking to the four winds until the North Wind finally blows her east of the sun and west of the moon to a castle where trolls live. For three nights she tries to save the prince but she can’t, until she realises, as a human, she is better at crafting than trolls and saves the day.
and my favourite bit; in anger, the troll who wanted to marry the prince explodes.
I actually have a peice of artwork up in my house based on this tale.
East, Edith Pattou
- The Little Mermaid
…One of the few fairytales where the princess doesn’t actually get the prince (don’t let Disney fool you), I’ve always liked this one because it isnt happy. This mermaid gives up a huge part of herself and accepts a life that would be painful for love. She goes to the prince, hoping he would fall in love with her (and thus share his human soul with her), but he ends up marrying another princess.
Her mermaid sisters exchanged their hair for a knife that would end the princes life- and her fate of ceasing to exist because he doesn’t love her- but she refuses to kill him and turns into sea foam like ever other mermaid (awww) but because of her selfishness, she is given a chance in her afterlife to do deads so she would have a soul in the end.
It’s so sad, but so… well, not true, but more true. Because in this, there is no love at first sight and the man isnt the happily ever after. It’s quite refreshing.
Good question, as I’ve never read a Little Mermaid retelling…
- One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes
This is such an unknown tale and it makes me sad, because it’s so good and has such a good lesson in it. Namely, never treat someone badly for being different to you, and never treat someone badly for being the same as someone else.
In it, a woman has three daughters. One has one eye, one has two eyes and one has three eyes. Two of the daughters and the mother treat the two-eyed girl badly, leaving her only scraps to eat and making her do all the work. One day, Two Eyes gets upselt and while looking after the goat, starts crying. A woman appears and gives her a spell to say, that will make a table of food appear when she was with the goat. The others realise something is wrong and try to catch her out, but since they are not used to work, both the one -eyed daughter and the mother fall asleep. Finally the three-eyed daughter goes to the field with her, sees what is going on and they kill the goat.
The woman appeared again and told the girl to bury the goats heart. She does so, and the next morning a tree of silver and gold fruit is there. All three try to pick the fruit, but it moves away from anyone but Two-Eyes.
One day, a knight comes riding by and asks for some friut. Again, the three try to impress him, but it is only Two-Eyes that gives him the fruit. He asks if she wants anything and she told him she wishs to leave the house that treats her so badly. He whisks her away to his fathers castle where they fall in love and get married.
Somehow, the tree follows her to her new home.
When two beggars come to the castle later, Two-Eyes realises they are her sisters, forgives them and takes them in.
I mean, shes more forgiving that I would ever be, but I’ve always loved that it shows that kindness as well.
What fairytales are your favourites? What do you wish were more well known, and what fairytales would you read more retellings of?