{ICYMI} Fractured Fairy Tales

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This post was first featured on Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing on April 21, 2011 during the very first Fairy Tale Fortnight. 

This year for the event's 5th Anniversary, older posts will be pulled out from the archives and given a brand-new coat of paint as "In Case You Missed It" features!

I had really wanted to share the guest post I ever did for FTF back before I co-hosted it, but Ashley is no longer blogging and everything on her blog is gone. For those of you who haven't been with the event since the beginning, Ashley was one of FTF's co-founders! 

Thank goodness for the Internet Archive Way Back Machine so I could snag this post for you! This post is special because Ashley and Misty wanted me to write a post for them (the way you see many guest posters now!) I've been with FTF since the very beginning.

***Keep in mind that the following is from 2011. I've read many more books that I would have included on the following list since then!
(Like, um, upcoming new release A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas. I can't wait to share my review with you next week!!***

When most people think about fairy tales, they envision a magical realm brimming with triumph, valor, and true love. Who doesn’t love reading about the heroes and heroines destined to embark on virtuous quests or struggling to break free from a dangerous curse? There are so many repetitious elements linking such tales together that I’ve come to savor the flip side of the story no one ever thinks twice about. While I love the traditional classics we all grew up with, these days, I’m more interested in the unexpected. I don’t know if there’s an official name for this, but I tend to call the sub-genre “fractured fairy tales.” The current fairy tale novels I most enjoy are ones with unique takes on the stories we all know and love.

HEART’S BLOOD by Juliet Marillier (read my review here)

This was one of the best books I read last year. It’s also become one of my all-time favorite fairy tale renditions because it’s beautiful and well-developed. I think I like this version of Beauty and the Beast even more than the famous Robin McKinley rendition that was a staple in my Favorite Novels Collection for years. Blasphemy, I know, but true. I love the fact that Heart's Blood is grounded in “our” world and entwined with Celtic lore and the arrival of the Normans. This could have actually happened, for the most part. The “beast” wasn’t a human transformed into a frightening creature. No, this time around, he’s an Irish Chieftain who suffered from a terrible palsy (a stroke) as a child, causing him to be partly-paralyzed with lopsided features. He takes the heroine in as a hired scribe when she seeks shelter as a terrified runaway. Even the “curse” is something that could have possibly happened long ago (in some worlds, at least) and has nothing to do with bringing “Beauty” and “Beast” together.

MERMAID by Carolyn Turgeon (read my review here)

This is one of my favorite books so far this year. When I saw it at the bookstore a few weeks ago, I was lured in by the unique way the novel retold The Little Mermaid. The point of view flips back and forth from the mermaid to the princess that the prince ultimately marries. I’d never seen a version from the princess’ perspective before and was stunned. On top of that, the descriptions were beautiful, especially while in the mermaid’s realm. I loved the book so much that I quickly purchased Turgeon’s other novels, Godmother and Rain Village (which is loosely based on Thumbelina, another tale seldom re-envisioned). Godmother reminds me a lot of The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey. Both novels deal with the life of a fairy godmother. How often do we think about these women outside of their traditional roles?

GODMOTHER by Carolyn Turgeon (read my review here) and THE FAIRY GODMOTHER by Mercedes Lackey

In Godmother, our heroine falls in love with Cinderella’s prince and is banished to our mortal world, an outcast for depriving her charge of a happily ever after. The novel is one of the darkest fairy tale renditions I’ve read. The way everything comes together really leaves you thinking. I also love the fact that Turgeon wove the true historical account of the Cottingley Fairies into the tale. The Fairy Godmother, on the other hand, is a lot more uplifting. I was enamored with the way Mercedes created The Tradition, which forces people into fairy tale roles at the expense of everything else. Sometimes, the magic goes wrong. If you’re put onto the Cinderella path because you have a stepmother and stepsisters, you might wind up with a prince much younger or older...or he might die before he can marry. If a person doesn’t fulfill his or her happily ever after, there’s a bad build-up of magic that accumulates around them. Our main character is one such person. Rather than give up her magic when her happily ever after doesn't pan out, she chooses to become a fairy godmother and help others. She becomes such a strong person that she breaks from Tradition and creates her own tale.

THE SEVENFOLD SPELL by Tia Nevitt (read my review here)

Just this past week, I read this unique self-published e-book. It really challenged the way I think about fairy tales. What compelled me to download this to my nook was that it’s told from the POV of a village girl. We always hear about the heroes/heroines, or even the villains of a fairy tale. How often do we hear about how their happily ever afters effect the rest of the kingdom? This novella takes place in the world of Sleeping Beauty. It’s about a girl and her mother, two spinners whose spinning wheel is taken away. Having lost their sole source of income, the heroine is forced to dip into what little dowry she had. Now, she has no chance of marriage and must look at unsavory methods of work in order to make a living. Her life is completely destroyed by the curse placed on the princess. At the same time, Nevitt introduces a new twist on the original christening ceremony, one where a Sevenfold Spell is created specifically for the newborn princess. When one of the seven fairies is unable to lay down the final part of the spell in order to reduce the curse’s severity, it results in something unexpected that hinders the princess throughout her life.

There will always be an author who is able to look at things we didn’t notice when reading our favorite tales, pull it out, and create something fresh and exciting. I already have two shelves brimming with renditions; this is one of my favorite genres to curl up with. With all the movies and novels coming out in our genre over the next couple of years, I’m optimistic that I’ll soon have new favorites to discover and add to my bookcase.

What about you? 
What are some of your favorite alternative fairy tales, 
new and old alike?