I just got wise to the fact that Charlene at Bookish Whimsy and Ana of Read Me Away are hosting a fantastic event this week: Away to Whimsical Fairy Tale Land invites us to explore our favorite fairy tales and their retellings. There’s a different topic for each day, and though it’s the middle of the week already, it’s not too late to jump in!
Rather than picking one tale as they suggest, I’ve gathered a list of some of my favorite retellings here. Sorry for breaking the rules, but I hope you’ll forgive me because these are seriously amazing books.
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean (1991)
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones (1985)
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope (1974)
These are not all strictly speaking retellings, but variations on the theme of the ballad Tam Lin (fairy queen steals comely young man who must be rescued by his human lover). The first two are set in modern times (on a midwestern college campus and in the English midlands, respectively), and the last in a Tudor-era manor. Very different but all equally fabulous reads.
Beauty by Robin McKinley (1978)
A retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” of course. This was McKinley’s first novel, and unlike most first novels, was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to. This makes sense because it’s utterly charming and beautifully written. I wrote a guest post about it recently which you can find here.
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis (1956)
The Latin myth-cum-fairy tale of Cupid and Psyche lies behind all the “Beauty and the Beast” stories. In this novel, which he considered the best of his fictional works, Lewis sets the tale in the Hellenistic world on the borders of Greece and makes it a compelling story of jealousy, forgiveness and faith.
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea (1985)
Two modern-day children wander into an adventure involving the gods and heroes of Irish mythology. Perhaps a bit long and episodic, but filled with humorous and enchanting moments.
Kate Crackernuts by K.M. Briggs (1963)
Written by an eminent scholar of British folklore, this version of an unusual tale of friendship between step-sisters, and the battle with the witch who is mother to one of them, is both harrowing and heartwarming.
That’s seven of my favorites, a good fairy tale number. What are yours?