Fairy tales for grown ups

cover of prince of dreamsSome stories we love hearing over and over again. Folktales told worldwide over the centuries have amazing similarities of theme, style and even in presentation. Some of the most dramatic fairy tales capture our hearts and imaginations even today. Sometimes authors re-imagine than old story from another perspective. At times authors prefer to write new stories using riffs from established tales or using an old-fashioned storyteller’s style that encourages us to settle back and enjoy the telling.

Here are four new spins on fairy tales many of us recognize from our childhood days:

  • Prince of Dreams by Nancy McKenzie
    A retelling of the Tristan and Isolde myth in which the true heir to King Arthur’s throne is forced to take a subordinate role in the kingdom, but falls in love with the new king’s intended bride.
  • Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
    Green-skinned Elphaba, aka The Wicked Witch of the West, really wants to bring peace and prosperity to OZ, while the Wizard is actually the villain in this reworking of Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz.cover of true story of  hansel and gretel
  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
    What if Beauty’s name was a misnomer? McKinley fills in previously unknown details about a plain girl whose name becomes reality only when she learns to love the Beast.
  • The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy
    In a story that would surprise even the Brothers Grimm, an old woman living in the forest takes in two Jewish children sent off in the wilderness by their father and stepmother during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

The stories below will strike a bell with fairy tale lovers for their rich imaginative settings and their references to well-known folktale conventions. Each story, however, hides a surprise gift for adult readers.

  • The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye by A.S. Byattcover of book of lost things
    The five magical stories in this collection by Byatt will connect you to your inner child even as you recognize that the stories within stories within stories are also a spoof on fairy tales and the gullible characters who live them.
  • Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
    David ends up following his dead mother’s voice into a twisted fairyland he cannot escape without finding the King and The Book of Lost Things. To do so, he must escape the nightmarish wolf gangs, find a way into a palace of thorns and finally accept some hard truths about life.
  • The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
    Ageless Changelings live in the forests of New England waiting to exchange places with children living normal lives with their families. The problem is, what’s normal for one doesn’t seem to work out well for the other.
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman
    A town named Wall, outside London, is famous for its annual fair during which the wall between the world of humans and the world of faerie is open. A young man ventures through the wall’s opening to fetch a fallen star for his beloved.
  • Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip
    The young queen of Raine becomes obsessed with an old book given to her by a mage which she’s convinced holds secrets she needs. Only the orphan Nepenthe can decipher its thorny language.
  • In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente
    The mysterious dark tattoos around a young girl’s eyes contain the tales told Scheherazade-style in this first collection of new fairy tales for adults

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