{FTF Guest Post & FREE Book!} Leah Cypess on Fairy Tale Retellings

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Today, author Leah Cypess has stopped by to share her thoughts on fairy tale retellings.  Leah is the author of MISTWOOD and NIGHTSPELL, two fantastic fantasy novels that should be in your personal library if they aren't already!  Publishers Marketplace recently announced the sale of a new book by Leah entitled DEATHSWORN, coming in Fall 2013, along with the sale of a sequel.  Greenwillow will again publish the book, which is summarized as "a fantasy about a young sorceress with mysteriously fading powers who has been sent to tutor a sect of assassins in their underground stronghold; but while trying to solve the murders of the tutors who preceded her, she will discover a terrible secret about the assassins' true goals, one that will challenge her deepest beliefs and force her to make a choice that could overthrow an empire."  Um, is it next fall yet?

After reading Leah's guest post, I'd love to see her take on a fairy tale, especially since she's taking part in the TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES anthology this fall, where she's sharing a Mother Goose rhyme story with us.  *flail*

Want a small dose of Leah now to see if you'll like her novels...or to tide over your wait until something new by her is released?

In January, Leah released an e-book anthology of seven fantasy stories.  Even better?

It's FREE!!

CHANGELINGS & OTHER STORIES is available on nook, Kindle, and Smashwords...100% free!

Leah Cypess
Fairy Tale Retellings

Fairy tales have always puzzled me. At their best, they can be mythical and magical and gorgeous… but even at their best, they tend to make no sense. Why would a kiss break a spell? Where did the fairy godmother come from? Why build a gingerbread house? As a writer, those gaping logic holes drive me crazy. Plus, there’s no characterization, no worldbuilding, no foreshadowing. They seem like the type of lunatic first drafts you write at two a.m. that are based on a dream you had, except the writer forgot the part where you wait until the next morning and impose an actual story structure on said draft. 

Some fairy tale retellings do exactly that: they take the fairy tale and build a story around it, imposing logic and connections on random series of events, filling in the plot holes, fleshing out the world and characters, turning that two-or-three page narrative into a solid, satisfying book. When done well, they keep the magic and gorgeousness of the original, even while they transform it into a story that actually works. Juliet Marillier does this to The Seven Swans in DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST, probably my favorite retelling ever; and Heather Dixon does it to the Twelve Dancing Princess in ENTWINED. Sometimes, the gaps are filled so well that what is created is an almost entirely new story, with the original serving as its only occasionally-visible skeleton, as in Merrie Haskell’s THE PRINCESS CURSE (also based on Twelve Dancing Princesses). 

But my favorite type of fairy tale retelling is one that takes the original tale and gives it a twist – not in the process of turning it into a story, but from the very start. One common twist is to take a fairy tale and move it into the present; my favorite example is ICE by Sarah Beth Durst, which takes the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon and moves it to a research outpost in the modern-day Arctic. Another common twist is to reverse the good guys and the bad guys, giving evil witches and big bad monsters their say, as Alex Flinn does in BEASTLY. 

And last but not least, there are stories that don’t content themselves with retelling just one story, but mingle plots and characters from many fairy tales – a technique used recently in the television show Once Upon a Time, but also in books like Sarah Beth Durst’s INTO THE WILD and Alethea Kontis’s forthcoming ENCHANTED. 

As you can tell, I’m a fan of retellings… and always looking for new ones to read. So: what kinds of fairy tale retellings are your favorites – and what are specific examples of ones you’ve loved?

Leah has excellent taste in fairy tales, doesn't she?  

I talk about Juliet Marillier all the time on my blog, and have already mentioned her a few times during FTF!

Heather Dixon stopped by for an interview during last year's FTF, when I also reviewed ENTWINED.

I've also reviewed both THE PRINCESS CURSE and ICE.  In fact, I love ICE so much that when I met Sarah Beth Durst last month, I bought a second copy to share with you.

And, while I haven't reviewed ENCHANTED just yet....FTF isn't over and I have some more surprises in store for you!!

Check out all of the books Leah mentioned!  There's not a bad (poison?) apple in that bunch!  Which retellings would you recommend to Leah...or any other fairy tale lovers?


  1. I've heard Ash by Malinda Lo is a great retelling of the Cinderella story - It's on my to-read list!

  2. I really enjoyed Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow and Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

  3. I liked the guest post! Especially learning about Ice because I've never heard of that one before!

    ~Paige @ Comfort Books

  4. Thank you! Those are great recommendations. (And I highly recommend checking out ICE!)


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