Friday Thoughts: Top Five Fairytales

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.

  1. 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.
    Retellings-
    A Court of Thorns and Roses, Sarah J Maas
    Cruel Beauty, Rosamund Hodge
    Beastly, Alex Finn
    Beauty, Robin McKinley
  2. 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.
    Retellings-
    Cold Spell, Jackson Pearce
    (and technically Stealing Snow, but my review on that tells you my thoughts)
  3. 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.
    Retellings-
    East, Edith Pattou
  4. 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.
    Retellings-
    Good question, as I’ve never read a Little Mermaid retelling…
  5. 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?

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Book Retellings

It’s no great secret that I love fairytales. It’s also no great secret that I will put my hands on any retelling I can- even if it’s of a book I havent even read yet (I read four retellings of Peter Pan before I actually read the original)

I love retellings. I love seeing what different people take out of a tale- if its the moral of the story, or the land, or who the characters really are. I love seeing well-known stories being twisted around until they look nothing like what they once were.
Some retellings make you fall in love with the villain. Others show you that the hero was never as good as you thought. But what each of them does is remind you why you first loved that story.

So here are a few retellings. Those that I have read are in italics, those that are just in bold are on my TBR

Fairytales:

The Lunar Chronicles
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Cruel Beauty
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

Beastly
I am a beast.
A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.
You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.
Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly … beastly.

Beauty
Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”

A Court of Thorns and Roses
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

The Sleeper and the Spindle
On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents.

Of Beast and Beauty
In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city’s vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds.
Isra wants to help the city’s Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan’s enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe.
As secrets are revealed and Isra’s sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.

Stitching Snow
Princess Snow is missing.
Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.
Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.
When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

East
Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.
So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it– in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family– she readily agrees.
Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose– and realizes her journey has only just begun.

Cold Spell
Kai and Ginny grew up together–best friends since they could toddle around their building’s rooftop rose garden. Now they’re seventeen, and their relationship has developed into something sweeter, complete with stolen kisses and plans to someday run away together.
But one night, Kai disappears with a mysterious stranger named Mora–a beautiful girl with a dark past and a heart of ice. Refusing to be cast aside, Ginny goes after them and is thrust into a world she never imagined, one filled with monsters and thieves and the idea that love is not enough.
If Ginny and Kai survive the journey, will she still be the girl he loved–and moreover, will she still be the girl who loved him?

1001 Nights

A Thousand Nights
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.
And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.
Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.
Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

The Wrath and the Dawn
In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.
Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Peter Pan

Unhooked
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Neverland
Although Angelina McFarland loves reading fairytales, she never dreamed of falling right into one herself. Literally! But who is this flying boy who saved her? And why doesn’t he want to grow up?
Desperately trying to find a way off this cursed island, Angelina runs into a ruthless pirate. Hook captures her and keeps her trapped on his ship, the Jolly Roger, to lure the flying boy out of his hiding.
But is Hook really the heartless man she heard about? The more time Angel spends with him, the more she starts to wonder. Her growing feelings for him are as intense as shocking, and soon she can’t stop thinking about how soft his lips felt on hers when he kissed her under the stars.
As time passes, an old train ticket to London is all she has left to remind her of her former life and why she can’t give up trying to find a way home.
Or is staying in Neverland forever the better choice after all?

Tiger Lily
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Never Never
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.

Other Classics (children and adults)

Return to the Secret Garden
It’s 1939 and a group of children have been evacuated to Misselthwaite Hall. Emmie is far from happy to have been separated from her cat and sent to a huge old mansion. But soon she starts discovering the secrets of the house – a boy crying at night, a diary written by a girl named Mary and a garden. A very secret garden…

Five Children on the Western Front
Have you ever wondered what happened to the Five Children and It characters when the First World War began?
Cyril is off to fight, Anthea is at art college, Robert is a Cambridge scholar and Jane is at high school. The Lamb is the grown up age of 11, and he has a little sister, Edith, in tow. The sand fairy has become a creature of stories … until he suddenly reappears. The siblings are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a reason, and his magic might have a more serious purpose.
Before this last adventure ends, all will be changed, and the two younger children will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint – factory-workers, soldiers and sailors, nurses and the people left at home, and the war’s impact will be felt right at the heart of their family.

Dorothy must Die
I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?
Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.
What happened? Dorothy.
They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.
My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.

Wicked
An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Splintered
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Scarlet
Will Scarlet is good at two things: stealing from the rich and keeping secrets – skills that are in high demand in Robin Hood’s band of thieves, who protect the people of Nottingham from the evil sheriff. Scarlet’s biggest secret of all is one only Robin and his men know…that she is posing as a thief; that the slip of a boy who is fast with sharp knives is really a girl.
The terrible events in her past that led Scarlet to hide her real identity are in danger of being exposed when the thief taker Lord Gisbourne arrives in town to rid Nottingham of the Hood and his men once and for all. As Gisbourne closes in a put innocent lives at risk, Scarlet must decide how much the people of Nottingham mean to her, especially John Little, a flirtatious fellow outlaw, and Robin, whose quick smiles have the rare power to unsettle her. There is real honor among these thieves and so much more – making this a fight worth dying for.

Ophelia
He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia’s happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever … with one very dangerous secret.
Lisa Klein’s Ophelia tells the story of a young woman falling in love, searching for her place in the world, and finding the strength to survive. Sharp and literary, dark and romantic, this dramatic story holds readers in its grip until the final, heartrending scene.

Longbourn
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

The Austen Project books
Six authors and six retellings of Austens books.