We all know genres go in and out of fashion, with publishers and the media going from one “the next Big Thing” to another and only us loyal readers happily indifferent to genre fatigue. It happened with vampires. Then dystopia. Now it seems that we’re in the middle of a fairytale deluge.
Personally, I’m a fan of retellings. I’m also a fan of vampires and dystopia. Provided that it’s a good book of course. I care more about killer plots, kickass characters, atmospheric settings and love stories I can root for. I want the feels.
My favourite kind of retellings are the kind that take the smallest grains of the original fairytale and then shape them into something entirely new. Some authors are particularly skilled at doing this and I’d like to share my favourites with you!
First up is Grimm Tales: For Young and Old by Philip Pullman. Pullman seized my imagination as a child with Northern Lights and hasn’t let it go since. I found his rendition of these classic fairy-tales gorgeously written, witty and authentic. Read this book for Pullman’s unique voice and some classic tales.
Next are The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston, Both books are retellings of Arabian Nights, however they couldn’t be more different.
The Wrath and the Dawn was a five star read for me and so wondrously evocative of magical Arabian nights in the desert. It also gave me major foodie vibes! I defy you to read this and not feel hungry for beautiful feasts under star studded canopies. Ahdieh created such a sensual world of sights, scents, touch and love that it left me reeling. The final book in the duology, The Rose and the Dagger comes out this April 26th and it’s not to be missed!
A Thousand Nights is a standalone book with a completely different mood. I gave this book 3/5 stars as I found it less compelling although it is extremely well written and the historical elements ring true. I found the biggest problem to be that I struggled to fall in love with the characters and there was a lack of romance in this book. Not that every book has to have romance in it of course, but I expected it here and was disappointed. A Thousand Nights is well worth reading for the beauty of its text alone but it is slow moving.
One of my absolute favourite retellings is The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. With four books in total, Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter are all loosely based upon Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White. However, Meyer takes the old fashioned stories and turns them completely on their heads, setting these books far in the future where Earth is threatened by the Lunars – an evolved species of human living on the moon. She also takes these four women and turns them into figures of female empowerment. I can’t recommend these books enough! Go and read them. Immediately!
Finally, my favourite retelling and one of my new favourite books is A Court of Thorns and Roses by the inimitable Sarah J Maas. This woman is fast becoming one of my favourite authors of all time! Her books are so engrossing that you cannot help but devour them. Preferably in one sitting. ACOTAR is a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, if Beauty were a kickass huntress and Beast were a lethal fae. Maas introduces such a potent collection of characters and then throws them into plot lines filled with danger and seduction. This book is pure magic. And I have a feeling the next two books in the trilogy will be, too.
Now that I’ve added The Shadow Queen to this collection, fingers crossed I’ll love it too!
What’re your favourite retellings?
“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses